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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Chess, Anyone?

Yesterday, Bow seemed bored. He kept asking for his blanket, then when he got the blanket, he really didn't want it. It was raining outside. "You look bored," I told Bow. "You want to play chess?" He said yes.

He helped me to set up the board.

But he really didn't want to play chess.

That's okay. I didn't really want to play chess, either! There are plenty of other people who are good at playing chess and do it all the time, and those are the people who by rights should be playing chess.

In life, you cannot force people to do what they don't want to. I mean, you can, up to a point, but it really does not pay off.  Bribing people also does not work that well. Leave them alone and see what comes naturally to them, and that is what people will end up doing.

It is better to choose people who want to do something and are willing to do it just for the love of the thing.

Wouldn't it be silly to assume that nobody would ever play chess unless they were paid to do so? Then why do people believe nobody would engage in scientific research or build airplanes or defend their country, unless the government were paying them to do so?

Have you seen the new movie by Hayao Miyazaki about Jiro Horikoshi who designed the Zero fighter plane? Miyazaki makes a great case for the fact that Horikoshi  did not design the Zero in order to make war or to make money, but just because an airplane is a beautiful thing. Too bad the Japanese government was able to make use of his work. Do you think he would not have designed a beautiful plane without government funding?

The 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans is coming up. There is going to be a symposium about it. At the symposium, some historians are going to argue that the British had a superior force because they were better trained and equipped by their government. They are going to try to suggest that Jean Laffite, with his private flints and gunpowder and artillery and well trained privateers did not win that battle!

In Australia, the scientific community is all a-flutter because they have no science minister, and the sciences are getting de-funded. But have you ever met a science minister who made an independent scientific discovery?  A War Minister who won a war? A National Endowment for the Arts bureaucrat who made beautiful art? Keep the government out. Let the chips fall where they may.

Are you worried that civilization will come to a grinding halt? Let it go! Let them all do what they do when they are neither bribed nor forced. Let them do what they do when no one is looking and no one is overseeing. Laissez faire! Beautiful things can happen when people just do what comes naturally.


  1. In the end I think people always do what they want anyway. I like your sentiment in this post. As a kid I never wanted to learn to play chess, but I enjoy lining up the different pieces, and making up my own stories with them.

    1. Hi, Julia. There are certainly some interesting stories that can be made up by using chess pieces as characters. Lewis Carroll was known for that!

  2. I thought I had posted on this last week, but I just now saw that I didn't.
    Anyway, I agree - a recent example of this is the company "Solyndra". They received more than $535 MILLION from the government and they were artificially propped up. They have now failed because the product they made (solar panels) was inferior. Other companies that are making solar panels on their own are doing much better.
    By the way, does Bow know the moves that each chess piece is allowed?

    1. Glad you agree, Kathy, and that's a good example with the solar panels.

      I have taught Bow the chess piece moves, but even when he agreed to play a little, a long time ago, all he did was copy the move his opponent made on his side of the board.