Saturday, August 29, 2015

Opposite Of Mistake


You're really starting to stretch the definition of a mistake, Xero. - Karsus

According to a quick google search...

mistake = an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.

"Wrong" certainly has a perfect opposite... "right". And we've all acted or made judgements that were right... but there isn't a single word for this concept.

______ = an action or judgement that is correctly guided or right

what about...

eutake = an action or judgement that is euguided or right

Let's say that you decide to go for a hike. Why? Because the available evidence leads you to believe that it would be a eutake to go for a hike! So there you are in Queensland on a hike. It's a warm, humid, windy and sunny day and you're really happy to be out in nature. You're very confident that you made a eutake. Around a bend in the trail you spot some bulldozers in the distance. Bulldozers?! Yikes! That's the last thing that you want to discover when you're out in nature. A sign reveals that this large wonderful area of open woodland all around you is going to be replaced with rows and rows of houses. From your perspective... the government is making a big mistake. It's making a decision that will destroy, rather than create, value for you. As you sadly look around and silently lament the cruel fate of all this precious nature... you spot what appears to be an orchid growing on a tree. Upon closer inspection you confirm that it is indeed an orchid.

Have you actually ever seen any orchids growing on trees in Queensland? Would you be able to identify that an orchid growing on a tree was actually an orchid? Maybe not? Maybe? Let's say that you did recognize that it was an orchid... but you didn't realize that it was one of Australia's very best orchids... Dendrobium trilamellatum. Here's a good introduction...

This robust epiphyte thrives in habitats in which few other orchids can survive. It occurs from a little south of Cooktown to the islands of Torres Strait, southern New Guinea and the Top End of the Northern Territory. It is a species of the very seasonal and hot open melaleuca woodlands where the wet season usually starts in December with occasional storms building to heavy rain in January to March, followed by a dry season in which virtually no rain falls from June to November. The Yellow Antelope Orchid flowers in spring (July to November) and the flowers are attractive, long lasting and pleasantly scented. They are about three to four centimetres across. In cultivation this species does moderately well, but must be given a dry season and the medium must be well drained. - Bill Lavarack, Bruce Gray, Australian Tropical Orchids

Even though this awesome orchid can survive a long, harsh dry season... it sure can't survive a bulldozer. So the wind definitely didn't make a eutake when it carried the tiny tiny tiny seed to this tree in this doomed patch of woodland.

Orchids have the smallest seeds in the world. Unlike other plant "parents"... orchid "parents" don't pack any lunch (endosperm) for their seeds. In order to germinate... the seeds have to land on a tree that has a suitable type of microscopic fungus. The fungus will penetrate the tiny seed... and when it does so... the seed will utilize the supplied nutrients in order to germinate. The orchid doesn't kill the fungus though... the fungus actually takes up residence in the orchid's roots. It's a symbiotic relationship because... once the orchid starts photosynthesizing... it will trade different nutrients with the fungus. Plus, the orchid roots help the fungus colonize the tree... and I'm guessing that the thick, succulent roots can help the fungus survive particularly harsh dry seasons.

Having the tiniest seeds in the world provides orchids with a few advantages. First... an orchid can pack a lot of seeds into one seed pod. A lot. Like, literally a million seeds. This greatly increases its chances of success. Second... the wind can transport the seeds a considerable distance. This also increases its chances of success. Given that the orchid family is arguably the most successful family on the planet... it certainly made a eutake when it sacrificed seed nutrients (endosperm) for greater seed quantity and dispersal distance.

In the case of the specific Dendrobium that's right in front of you though... the wind didn't make a eutake... it made a mistake. It transported the seed to the wrong tree. And now the orchid is going to die. Unless you rescue it! From my perspective... you'd be making a huge eutake if you rescued it! But if you didn't have all this information that I've just shared with you... then chances are good that you'd make a huge mistake instead. You'd leave the Dendrobium trilamellatum on the tree... the government would kill it... and the world would be marginally less diverse. Plus, imagine that this one particular individual Dendrobium was marginally more drought tolerant. If, because of climate change, the future is a marginally drier place... and the additional dryness kills off all the other orchids... then this one individual Dendrobium could have helped repopulate the entire planet with epiphytic orchids. So it would be a monumentally huge eutake to rescue it and an equally huge mistake not to rescue it.

If you did happen to make the huge eutake of rescuing the orchid... then what? Then you could divide the orchid in half and send one half to me in Southern California! I'd attach my half of the orchid to my tree here in Los Angeles and you would attach your half of the orchid to your tree in Brisbane. This would be an extremely good hedge. Of course... it would be an infinitely better hedge if we could send half the orchid to a colony on Mars. Then, if a huge asteroid hit the Earth, we wouldn't lose this awesome species entirely. Unfortunately... we don't have a colony on Mars. So the other side of the world is as safe as it gets.

So what do you think? Did I convince you to send me any doomed Dendrobium trilamellatums that you might happen to find while hiking? Oooops. That's not what I meant to ask! What I meant to ask was... did I convince you that it would help if we had a single word that conveyed the concept of an "action or judgement that is correctly guided or right"?

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