The Clouded Leopard

Can a Leopard change its spots? Of course it can! You will, of course, think I have been drinking polluted water from a pothole but do read on.
BBC Earth News tells us that “The “newest” cat species described to science, the Sunda clouded leopard, actually exists in two distinct forms, scientists have confirmed. This big cat is so enigmatic that researchers only realised it was a new species – distinct from clouded leopards living elsewhere in Asia – in 2007. The first footage of the cat in the wild to made public was only released last year. Now a genetic analysis has confirmed that the cat comes
in two forms, one living in Sumatra, the other on Borneo.

Clouded leopards are the most elusive of all the big cats, which include lions, tigers, jaguars, snow leopards and normal spotted leopards. Living across south-east Asia, into China and India, the leopards have larger cloud-like spots than ordinary leopards. Until 2006, all clouded leopards were thought to belong to a single species. However, genetic studies
revealed that there are actually two quite distinct clouded leopard species.”
Elsewhere, in the book, The Black Swan, we learn that until the discovery of Australia, it was an uncontested fact that all swans were white in the same way that at one point the entire world believed that the earth was at the centre of the universe or that the earth was flat. In the early 1920s, British mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb
Mount Everest. He famously responded: “Because it is there.” He died on the mountain at his fourth attempt, in June 1924, and his funeral was attended by the Prime Minister, entire cabinet and the Royal Family. The journey is more important than the destination. If a teenage Mallory had told anyone that his funeral would be attended by such luminaries he
would have been laughed off as a dreamer. Einstein would have had the same response had he told his teacher he was going to be the world’s most famous scientist. A black swan event is a surprise to the observer, has a major impact and yet, after its first recording and with hindsight, it is agreed that it could have been forseen. 9-11 was a black swan event for instance. Individuals, political parties and businesses routinely fail to foresee these events. Look at Zimbabwe, very few foresaw farm invasions, arrests of over a thousand businessmen for flouting price controls, factory invasions, run-off elections, one candidate pulling out, government of national unity or dollarization for that matter. Not even Dell! Everyone saw a potential Somalia and yet Zimbabwe is still a house of stone.

We all have a world view, all of us, with very few of us ever questioning the status quo. So you will have people sayings things are as they are because it is God’s will, the ancestral spirits, the devil, dollarization, or my boss just doesn’t like me. So here is a question for you:
are all your swans white and your leopards spotted? Is there room in your world for the
possibility of not one, but possibly two clouded leopards? As long as we do not interrogate
our beliefs, ask why things are as they are, they probably always will be that way until
someone shocks you in to discovering otherwise and by then you may have missed the boat.

You cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results! Someone has to dare to be different, to be ridiculed and yet to have the last laugh. I know very little about engineering but one of the chaps I drink with is one, and a good one at that. Unfortunately he is a Manchester United supporter as well. Anyway, I was talking to him about the floods in Australia and asking how well prepared he thought Africa was for such an eventuality and given the lessons of cyclone Eline. He gave me the following response: One of the mining companies he consults for said to him, evaluate a one-in-five-hundred-years flood risk and put all our equipment above that line. In other words, some of the worst disasters in the world were and are bound to happen one day and black-swan-savvy people plan for them as
if they would happen tomorrow because of the random nature of their occurrence.

What does this mean to you? Everyone was surprised that Obama, not only beat Hillary Clinton to the Democratic nomination, but also became President of the USA. Everyone, except Obama, it seems. Think about it.
If you are not thinking big, you should be going home. If you think small, you will grow in to that small space you have thought yourself in to. Your swans will always be white and the leopards around you will never change their spots. However, if like Mallory, you want to climb your Everest because it is there and beckoning, begging you to climb it, I suggest you
pack your gear and create your own Black Swan moment to the shock of your neighbours who fully expect you to fail. Go big, or go home! That too, is Innerzela.

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