Friday, September 18, 2009

5 Unavoidable Truths In Life

I just read the following on a blog and thought I'd pass it along. Good food for thought.

I read once that there are 5 unavoidable truths in life, 5 things that we will experience again and again during our tenure on planet earth.
  1. Everything changes and ends

  2. Things do not always go according to plan

  3. Life is not always fair

  4. Pain is a part of life

  5. People are not loving and loyal all the time

In response, a reader of the blog replied:

Here are the arguments to your five truths:
  1. So enjoy it.

  2. So change plans.

  3. So ensure that you are.

  4. So don't cause it.

  5. So you must be.

It's 1943 all over again.

I have a little high school chemistry textbook from before my time: "Visualized Chemistry", by William Lemkin, copyright 1938 and 1943. Apparently one of the revisions made to create the 1943 edition was a new chapter entitled "Chemistry in Warfare". Today I noticed this paragraph in that chapter:

Bombing Raids on Our Cities. In attempting to bomb one of our great coastal cities such as New York or San Francisco, the enemy would not be likely to use heavy demolition bombs. This does not seem practical because of the great distances which would have to be flown to and from the objective, and the limited number of such bombs that can be carried even by the largest type of bombing plane in use today. It is the belief of military experts that any attack on our great cities would be more in the nature of a "token" assault. The chief object of such a bombing foray would be not so much to cause really thorough and widespread destruction as to disrupt the normal industrial routine, to create fear and panic, and in general to undermine the morale of the populace. For such "token" bombings, the enemy would be likely to use some fragmentation bombs, together with a large number of small and mekium sized demolition bombs, and above all, veritable showers of fire-producing chemicals.

The above way of thinking was overshadowed for a long time by the development of atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs, and by the later development and deployment of ICBM missiles that could deliver them directly and quickly. But with the end of the Cold War and a stand-down of the mutual ICBM threat, this 1943 paragraph has new relevance when you view it in light of the 9/11 attack on New York. What wasn't forseen was that such a "token" assault would be carried out not by an enemy's bombs or bombers, but by the enemy's innovative use of our own civilian airplanes, filled to the brim with those "fire-producing chemicals".

Moral: Don't dismiss old wisdom without re-evaluating its relevance in a changing world. That's one reason we teach history.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Six Letters

They are coming for me, slowly.
I can feel it in my soul.
Sharp-tongued stick men
Scraping stilt legs against dry leaves
In the dull fog of the night.
Each has his list
Of all the crimes I've committed
Written in stick-figure alphabets
That wave their tiny arms
And carry torches.
"The evidence is overwhelming!"
The men and their lists proclaim
As they ring my ruined hovel.
They put me into their hard-edged cart
Of thick black lines and polygon wheels
And silently take me away.
Of course. Here's a stick-figure gallows.
Someone says "G"
And my head appears.