Free the Stow-on-the-Wold Two, a existential interlude

September 7, 2008

But the Cat keeps his side of the bargain too. He will kill mice and he will be kind to Babies when he is in the house, just as long as they do not pull his tail too hard. But when he has done that, and between times, and when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him. Then he goes out to the Wet Wild Woods or up the Wet Wild Trees or on the Wet Wild Roofs, waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone.

I thought I might continue the theme of cats for another day as its proving a useful build up to the question of public policy: should we avoid harm, or attempt to do good. The defense is also raising some interesting questions. We had a Cognitive Edge development meeting down in Cardiff yesterday followed by the whole team attending the match between Cardiff Blues and Leinster in which we (the Blues) played 16 men (two clear penalty tries not even rewarded with a penalty, both missed by a blind Scottish Referee). The question of cats came up at the start of the session before we got to discussion of patents, business plans, the legitimacy of snakes and dragons as indexing methods (don’t ask), and the ever difficult question of development priorities (we want everything now).

In essence the following points were made and information provided:

  • The electronic devise provided can control up to eight cats, cost £80 and allows individual control to be programmed in. Only two mammals are currently controlled leaving spare capacity (I am now worried)
  • The hunting cat has learnt to tailgate, following the non-hunting cat through the door during his banned period (freedom wins out)
  • Speculation took place about the extension of the control system to zap any cat if it exhibited bad thoughts.
  • The defense was offered that “the cat is very lucky to be with us” (interesting one that)
  • The cat can catch all the rodents he wants (control period is 0700-2000) but not birds, in fact killing rodents appears to be encouraged. Now given that rodents have a developed limbic brain while birds have little (consequences for considerations of empathy pain etc. etc.) One wonders if higher life forms are therefore more likely to be confined?
  • Removing cats from the eco-system privileges birds over the species on which they predate
  • The cats are called Budweiser and Stella
  • Attempts to get factual data on the number of killings and their impact on the local ecosystem failed.

Now if we regard the Just so Stories as an authoritative source (which we should) then the contract between cats and humans clearly links the catching of mice to the right to roam. We have ambiguity over whether this is only for nocturnal activity, but there is clearly no reference to collars and tags. I realise that only one cat is confined, but both are collared and thus both face the constant doubt, uncertainty and existential angst so induced. More properly termed dread, this represents (Satre) the the question of taking responsibility for the consequences for ones actions and/or (Kierkegaard) removing the driving forces of the cats individuation.

have therefore decided to start a campaign to free the Stow-on-Wold Two. Now, I realise that taking this position is not without its dangers. I have to call in later today to pick up Angelina before moving on to Liverpool in preparation for an open day tomorrow. I have decided that I need to play safe, and will park 100 yards away from the house in a lighted area with plenty of passers by. Entering the house might result in my being confined until 2000 tonight …..

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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