7/11/2010 13:49


I noticed my neighbor the other day, tending the grass on his lawn. Now, I've never understood why people want their entire lawn to be covered with a monoculture of a particular weed species, but that is a question to ponder at a later date. This neighbor went through the usual machinations of mowing (with a gasoline-powered engine) and and trimming (with a gasoline-powered engine); between times he has someone else come and pour various (petroleum-derived) poisons over the plants. So it is clear that, whatever the reason, he is committed to a grassy lawn.

Upon completion of the mowing operations, my neighbor took out a "leaf blower" (with a gasoline-powered engine) and attacked the grass clippings in the portion of the lawn between the street and sidewalk, blowing them into the gutter.

In this way, he was able to accomplish 4 goals at once: He created air pollution and noise pollution from the motor, he created water pollution from the blades of grass which will (as they rot away) flow into the river and bay, and he impoverished his lawn by mining nutrients.

This is efficiency.

That is, this would be efficiency if these results are what he was striving to attain. I have no direct knowledge of my neighbor's actual goals, but I have some knowledge of what he accomplished in reality.

The quality of my neighbor's play in the actual reality game can't be measured in absolute terms. The measurement must be tied to the goals my neighbor set and the strategy by which he is working to achieve them. Were his goals remotely similar to mine, these tactics would be precisely counter-effective. I have already observed that my neighbor's goals are almost certainly distinct from my goals, so there remains the possibility that he is accomplishing exactly what he set out to do, and with great efficiency.

It could also be that he has not considered his plays with sufficient care to choose a more effective tactic.