Build a Better Mouse Trap

By | March 30, 2015

Go the extra mile, seek and you shall find, as ye sow so shall ye reap… these are all well-known aphorisms that have had their fair share of acceptance. Even when trite, there is more than a kernel of truth in such old sayings as “build a better mouse trap”. Now what does this enigmatic phrase mean exactly? Quite simple, really. It implies that you can always improve on something, even when it already works. In life, there are many instances of this fact. There is almost nothing that can’t undergo some kind of transformation for the better. Use fancy words like amelioration and it’s all the same to me. The world and its content is on a constant road to progressive betterment.

Think of all that modern science and technology have done for us. We had penicillin and now we have tygacycline. We had cars, now we have hybrids. We had swamp coolers, now we have ACs. We had PCs, now we have tablets. There is fundamental change automatically built in most everything. Not only do biological entities evolve. Life gets more streamlined and just plain easier when we build a better mousetrap. Some people hate change and want to live in the past. There are still hippies in Berkeley and mountain men in Tennessee. Many say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I say “bah.”

If we can improve things, then why not? Just because we can, I suppose. And because it can make a real difference. Sometimes it is just for practicality as in upgraded sewing machines, better theater acoustics, and machine-made shoes. Other times, it is a matter of life and death as with new surgical procedures. People who died a century ago from heart attacks live today with stents and bypasses. Few die in childbirth. If it is within the realm of possibilities, there is someone somewhere who is creative enough and inspired enough to press forward. The mystery of invention is idea gestation and where it gets applied.

Things have gotten to the point that we expect the new and innovative constantly. We are hooked on novelty. We wait impatiently for the new iPhone and the latest video game. We want to be entertained and we want to be healthy. There are new superfoods we had not heard of a few years ago. We want it all – and now. There is no reason why building a better mousetrap like the ones on this page should be threatening or detrimental to anyone’s lifestyle. We farm better, we make improved products like TVs and washing machines, we enjoy better and faster air transportation. Better, improved, revised—these are the buzzwords of modern culture worldwide. We tear down buildings even just fifty years old. We fill in marsh land for housing projects and purify our water to prevent disease. We repave over the past to make way for the new. Who remembers key punch, ether, ice boxes, dot matrix printers, rotary dialing, clothes pins, garter belts, megaphones, milking stools, chimney sweeps, Italian lire…