By now you’ve hopefully heard the amazing story of Inky, the escape-artist octopus from New Zealand. From this AMs WaPo:
By the time the staff at New Zealand’s National Aquarium noticed that he was missing, telltale suction cup prints were the main clue to an easily solved mystery.
Inky had said see ya to his tank-mate, slipped through a gap left by maintenance workers at the top of his enclosure and, as evidenced by the tracks, made his way across the floor to a six-inch-wide drain. He squeezed his football-sized body in — octopuses are very malleable…–and made a break for the Pacific.
Great for Inky, and a testament to how little we understand about the capability of certain animals, not to mention a wonderful liberation from captivity story.
But I’d like to focus for a second on Inky’s tank-make, Blotchy, who doesn’t even get a mention in the WaPo story, presumably because he or she just stayed behind and is thus uninteresting to the media.
But let’s face it: some of us are Inky and some of us are Blotchy.
I imagine the conversation in the octopus tank went something like this:
Inky: Blotchy, check it out! They left the top of our tank ajar. We can make a break for it!
Blotchy: Wait, what? You’re saying we—and by “we” I mean creatures who live and breathe in the water—climb out of our tank, somehow schlep across the floor to that tiny drain way over there, which we then squeeze through, and hope to Neptune that it somehow leads us back to the ocean? That’s the plan, Ink? That’s all you got?! Not to mention, we give up our three squares a day and no predators. I don’t think so.
Inky: We can do this, Blotch!
Blotchy: I barely have enough arms to count the number of whack-job schemes you’ve come up with, but this is downright suicidal.
Inky: Blotchy—is this how you want to live? Stuck inside this tiny tank when we could be roaming the sea? Ogled at all day by practically armless creatures, endlessly singing “Under the Sea” in a Kiwi accent. I know it’s a big risk. But think about the reward.
And so on…
What would you have done? I’m sorry to say, I’m probably a Blotchy. Perhaps that comes from learning risk analysis and being too driven by conditional probabilities such that I would have roughly calculated the odds of success by imagining all the parts of the plan that could go wrong, and stayed put.
What about you? Are you an Inky or a Blotchy? And is it too much of a reach to apply these personality types more broadly. Is Bernie an Inky, arguing that we’ve got to get out of the box/tank, while Hillary’s a Blotchy, saying we need to stay put and make things better from the inside? (Trump, OTOH, is building a seawall so Inky can’t emigrate here.)
End of the day, it takes both Inkys and Blocthys to make the world turn. I suspect old Blotch is sitting in the tank thinking: “well, how about that—that crazy plan worked! You go, Inky. As for me…let’s just see what happens the next time they forget to close up the tank.”