COB-52: sloths unjustly maligned

Like bureaucrats, sloths are often mocked and defamed.   Such actions merely display ignorance.  In fact, sloths are highly capable animals.

Sloths have a reputation for sleeping a lot.  Confined in zoos, sloths sleep on average 16 hours a day.  You would too if you lived and worked in a zoo.

Important new research documents that sloths not confined in a building or other structure sleep only 9.63 hours per day on average.  Sleeping thus appears to be a response to unnatural and difficult circumstances.   The implications for bureaucrats confined in tiny offices are obvious.

A sloth is more active than a python.  Pythons sleep on average 18 hours a day.  Yet pythons have an important computer programming language named after them.    Why isn’t there an important computer programming language called Sloth?  Without a doubt, prejudice and discrimination are part of the answer.

The physical capabilities of sloths are grossly under-appreciated.  Sloths spend most of their lives clinging to tree branches.  The hair on their bodies grows upward, so that when sloths hang upside-down, water runs smoothly off their backs.  Two varieties of algae attach to a sloth’s fur and contribute to its ability to blend into its surroundings.  A sloth grips branches so securely that even when shot dead, its dead body will remain clinging to the branch.

sloths deserve your love

Sloths do not move quickly.  Their top speed is about 2 km/h.   But more than offsetting sloths’ slowness are their urinary and rectal capabilities:

two-toed sloths naturally retain both urine and feces, urinating and defecating at intervals that range from 3.4 to 4.6 days. … Their bladders are large, and sloths urinate up to 500 milliliters (almost 17 ounces) of urine at a time. Their rectal pouch is also large and the animals expel up to 235 milliliters (almost 8 ounces) of feces at a time. Depending on when in the excretion cycle a sloth is weighed, urine and feces may account for up to 30 percent of the animal’s body weight, which averages about 6 kilograms (about 13 pounds).

We believe that, on average, urinary and rectal capacities are inversely proportionally to frequency and speed of movement among middle-aged humans.  In other words, if a class of humans are noted for slow movement, that indicates their superior urinary and rectal capabilities.

Other bureaucratic issues this month:

In extremely exciting news, the Dawn of a New Day occurred on Oct 28, 2010.  More specifically, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, issued on that day a new memo.   The memo begins incisively by reviewing the contents of a memo that Ozzie wrote five years ago.  Like all memos, this memo merits detailed study.  The most important point in the memo is this:

The one irrefutable truth is that in any large organization, any transformation that is to ‘stick’ must emerge from within. … the power and responsibility to truly effect transformation exists in no small part at the edge.

On other words, transformation depends mainly not on an organization’s leaders, but on its legions of bureaucrats.  Ozzie’s insight points to a bright future for Microsoft.

Jennifer, a caver and bat conservationist, blames bureaucrats for closing caves in response to the spread of the bat-killing White Nose Syndrome (WNS).   But the problem isn’t bureaucrats; it’s lack of good science.  A blue-ribbon committee should be formed to plan a study of the causes of WNS.

You probably have heard the popular maxim, “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”   A Russian immigrant told me that’s not what he learned.   The maxim he learned was “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can in general never do.”   That’s a superior maxim.  Identifying things that don’t have to be done promotes efficiency.   Often leaders declare, “We have done a lot (come a long way), but much more remains to be done.”  The best way to do more is to determine first what doesn’t have to be done.  Meetings can help you do that.

That’s all for this month’s Carnival of Bureaucrats. Enjoy previous bureaucratic carnivals here. Nominations of posts to be considered for inclusion in next month’s carnival should be submitted using Form 376: Application for Bureaucratic Recognition.

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