Thursday 17 November 2011

Sparrows, spiders, and unintended consequences…

During China’s Great Leap Forward campaign from 1958 to 1962, there was this campaign to rid China of 4 main pests:

1)      Rats
2)      Flies
3)      Mosquitoes
4)      Sparrows

Unfortunately, the Chinese leadership realized too late that sparrows not only eat grains (that’s why they were on the list), they also eat insects too!

Without the checks and balances of nature, the locust population mushroomed and it contributed to one of the greatest man-made famine and catastrophe of human history… Over 30 million Chinese perished due to starvation during the Great Leap Forward years… More Chinese died than the whole of World War II!!?? Talk about well-intention gone bad…

When I moved into my studio apartment in Athens, I noticed there were spider webs on the 2 windows that let light into the room. Yucks!

Since I am not a big spider fan (who is?), I decided to “sheltox” the spiders and remove the cobwebs. Guess what? During summer evenings for the past 3 years, I am now terrorized by kamikaze mosquitoes in the night! I guess they must have slipped through the gaps in the windows…

When once upon a time the spiders’ webs would have done me a great service… I now “sheltox” myself in the dark whenever I hear the buzz of the mosquitoes…  Realization came too late. The spider never did me any harm; the mosquitoes did more damage. Sigh…

Now your turn! Have you done anything in the past that you thought would be good for you, but only to realize that the unintended consequences are even worse!?

For those of you lucky enough not to have this “ah ha” experience, you’ll know when you know it!

P.S. You can read this post in any way you like – depending how deep you want to “mind fxxx” yourself. From the high macro social-political level, to relationships, and down to the your investing/trading oops moments  J


  1. Hmmm from a financial point of view, my biggest mistakes were to buy whole life insurance and ILP when I first started working. Intention was good - wanted to leave behind something if anything happened to me and to make my money work harder. But on hindsight, would have bought term insurance and stocks instead.

    Now I have to pay costly premiums each yr and my ILP still in the red!

  2. I guess most of us do make this "mistake" on hindsight. I too have wholelife (30%) and term (70%).

    But if you check your wholelife's yield, it's not too bad if it's between 2% to 4%. Mine is around 3.8% - so not too bad compared to fixed deposit rates now; beat CPF 2.5% too!

    It's a nice "forced" savings for me. I don't mind wholelife policies as they do serve their purpose - depending on the individual.

    I'll be cashing in my wholelife policy when I hit 47 in 3 years' time. Wholelife breaks even (more or less) after 20 years. I bought at 27.

    Will use the money to invest in dividend stocks that yield at least 9% or more (that's if I can find them!)

    I don't need life insurance anymore since my networth is now more than the coverage.

    As for ILP, I have no nice words for agents who say they are in the insurance line to "help" their clients and yet hawk ILPs... A dollar cost average plan into Index or Mutual funds would be much better!

  3. I see..
    No wonder last time the elderly told me not to kill the house lizards

  4. that is why they say... the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

  5. Hi RemSG!


    Anyway, I've never tried to sheltox lizards... Too big and quick for me.


  6. Hey jun!

    The only problem is never tell us upfront!

    If I knew I going to hell, I would bring along my towel, lotions, and scented candles - can do my spa there! And of course lots of bribe money ;)

    And not wear this silly white hospital gown trying to look "pure" and "innocent" to blend in with the "heavenly beings". LOL!

  7. Hi SMOL,
    You are a Teochew. Can you tell me why house lizard is called "money dragon"(钱 龙,). i am just curious.
    It's such a nice fanciful name.

  8. Hello Temperament,

    Great question! I never thought of it too!?

    I called my mom in Singapore, and she said lizard in Teochew is pronouced as "Ji Leng"; but the proper character is 檐 not 钱.

    钱 and 檐 have the same sound in Teochew. I guess most people used 钱 as I agree with you - it's more fanciful and fun!

    钱龙 pronounced in mandarin sounds like the Ching emperor 乾隆 too!

    By the way, I googled and found an interesting blog below:

    The Hainanese version of lizard is power! 神郎!? Ding Lang?

    Any Hainanese readers can confirm?


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