Tagged: philosophy

The Marathon Analogy Doesn’t Work

I’m so tired of leaders who attempt to dupe us with this, “It’s a marathon not a sprint,” talk.

Everyone knows the only reason they say it is they know they are making unbelievable decisions with obviously disastrous consequences. The analogy fails for a few reasons, but the most glaring is that there are two elements to the races mentioned: speed and distance. An analogy works best if there’s only one element.

Maybe it is obvious to you, but I don’t even know which one they mean. Do they mean, “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for a long time?” Or “Don’t worry about my leadership, it’s gonna be bad for many more miles?”

I know, I know, you think there’s no way they mean “miles”. Okay. So let’s look at the time comparison.

The world record for a marathon is run at a pace of 2m54s per kilometer which is 174s. Divided by 10, that is 17.4s per 100 meters. The world record for the 100 meter dash is 9.58s—so about twice as fast a pace.

But by now I’ve thoroughly confused myself because I don’t see the point anymore. Is the leader saying “Recovery is going to take twice as long as you think?” If that was all they were trying to say, I’d think they could say it—and follow it up with data on how long we think it’s going to be and how long it’s actually going to be (and that it’s double). And then I get suspicious because if they won’t say the “twice as long” thing in plain terms—no analogy—then I want to know why.

As I figured this, it came to mind, that with a sustained 17.4 second hundred meter dash for an entire 26.2 mile marathon (421+ sprints), I hardly think anyone would suggest the marathon runner is giving less than his absolute best effort every single step, every life-giving breath—no different than the sprinter. Both men are running their absolute fastest for the duration of the race. Hmm. Duration. Are they simply wanting us to acknowledge the problem is a long one? Why not just say that? I know, because it doesn’t make sense. Because then they’d have to define the problem. Because in their inability to define the problem, they’d look weak. So rather than look weak, they’re going to try to dupe us. Here’s a sarcastic big thumbs up.

Now it’s my turn to use the analogy. Hey, leaders! We’re not stupid. But we also aren’t seeing all that you are. So you have some advantage. Please do your best—including the way you communicate to us. For now, stop using this stupid analogy as if it means something.

Renaming the Bible

As I mentioned, I was recently in Judges. Then the last few days, I have been studying Thessalonians 1&2.

I don’t want to rename the Bible. Moreover, I wouldn’t be able to. The idea is ridiculous. But I would like to share what I would call it, that is, in an imaginary world.

I’d call it… Actually I can’t put it into words.

It’s something like a self-help book that teaches you how to accept happiness in your life.

“Accept Blessings”. That’s about as close as I can get. But that sounds like an military order, not a book title.

“How to Accept Blessings” might be more accurate, but now I don’t know if I would have ever picked up a book with that title.

All I’m really trying to say is that the more I read the Bible, the more I see that people around me do not know how to be happy, how to make two good decisions in a row (let alone how to add a third), and the more I see that even when life doesn’t appear to be unfolding in our favor, it is.

Put another way, the starring character, Jesus, is supposed to have said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” And you won’t find that information anywhere else but in “Accept Blessings.”

See? That’s just not powerful.

Trying again.

And you won’t find that information anywhere else but in “How to Accept Blessings.”

Hmm. That’s definitely worse.

I guess we’re stuck with: And you won’t find that information anywhere else but in the Bible.

Bamboozled Out of Baseball

I’ve swung back-and-forth quite a bit during this pandemic. The two ends would best be characterized by denial and anxiety. Today something new is bubbling up. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been bamboozled.

It started as I considered this notion of “essential”. Actually, it started by reading what exactly was “essential” according to the government, and seeing how markedly it differed from my previous understanding of the word.

Now, it continues to build as I focus on how this is exactly how a socialist economic system works: Central planning. In other words, someone, not me, decides what I believe is essential.

Before the pandemic, Americans were doing just fine determining what was essential for their life. If we made a lot of money, we couldn’t live without extravagance. If we didn’t make any money, we survived by driving for Uber.

We were never satisfied with our fancy cars and ever changing diets, or we were eternally grateful to be able to make more money at will.

Now, the government is both feeding us the horrifying information about the disease and determining which parts of our lives are essential. This is a problem.

More pointedly, I just want to repeat that Major League Baseball is essential to summer.

Hey, You! Sleepy-head! Wake up! What is essential to you?

Two Ways Jack Reacher Stayed Healthy

Obviously we watched Jack Reacher last night. I was struck by two parts. The first is when TC explains how, through training and repetition, someone not smart can be made to appear smart. It reminded me of what I was trying to say about illiterate children.

Secondly, my dad told me today that he did not buy the toilet paper that was seemingly destined for him to buy as it sat on the shelf at the store. I repeat: my dad did not buy available toilet paper. Hear me clearly: the toilet paper had his name, in cursive—at least if you look in the right light—on the packaging and he did NOT buy it. Bravo. That reminded me of TC’s answer to the blonde’s anxious query, “Should I be afraid?!” Cruise says, “Are you smart?” Blondie says, “Yes.” Tom then says, “Then don’t be afraid.”

The Train Has Left The Station

The last time I visited a doctor my recent seminary studies entered the chat and the man subsequently commented, “Didn’t I read that they found his bones?”

That covers why I won’t be trusting doctors’ non-medical opinions.

Difficult times reveal character. They don’t create it. They don’t foster it. They simply provide an uncommon stage in a theater with better lighting.

In this post I intend to write something I’ll be proud of having written when I circle-back to it in the future. I’m not trying to say something wise. I’m not trying to calm anyone. I’m not trying to predict anything.

The train has left the station. There is no future point which will be accurately called the turning point. But the train didn’t leave the station recently, it left the station years ago. When we received the breath of life, the train began its one way trip.

Okay. I admit it. I’m angry. I’m angry because of what I’ve read from the doctors. One published his letter to his family. Another actually claimed “the sky is falling.”

Rather than the doctors admitting that their professional expertise does not extend beyond certain boundaries, they are now answering the general public’s cries for help—despite knowing that they’re out of their element. A doctor knows how to help our acute problems—most of the time. They do not know how to oversee the inhabitants of the earth.

Doctors are not elected. They are not appointed by god. These are facts.

I’ve spent a great portion of my waking hours discussing Jesus with folks. Never, not once, have I heard someone say, “You know what? I think I want in. How do I get eternal life?” That doesn’t bother me or cause me to doubt the value of that task. And I’m talking eternal life.

Doctors are screaming that we’re all going to die—BIG NEWS!—and they’re dismayed that no one listens? Join the club buddy. The back of the line is right over there.

Three Interesting Pontifications

  1. I’m going to relate the disregard for Biden and Sanders’ age to the current government response to see-oh-vee-aye-dee nineteen.
  2. I’m going to teach you bravery.
  3. I’m going to escape again.

Let’s begin. Like many of you, I have long been perplexed by Biden and Sanders’ age. This is because for as long as I can remember, our culture’s socially-approved political and historical posture has included the denigration of old white men. With the sought for and welcomed shut-down of America by these same socialites, not to mention their shaming of any folks who say, “Don’t worry”, I am no longer perplexed. What is now abundantly clear, even to a dunce like me, is Americans are in a state of denial regarding death.

Next, professional pilots must pass flight physicals on at least a yearly basis. As it was devised by pilots, this rule is naturally incredibly wise and far-thinking. And yet, it can be stressful on the day. Imagine with me that you’re not sick and you must go to a doctor. The doctor during this interaction has the power–not to tell you that you’re sick–but to bring an end to your career, and quite probably your childhood dream.

Again, as a pilot there is at least one day a year where even though you’re not sick, you must transfer the controls of your life to a person who has the power to crush your soul. How do we do it? Or, more specifically, how do I do it? Firstly, I tell the truth. The truth is that that doctor’s no more in control than I am. Something bigger is going on. Secondly, I remind myself that it’s not a one-time visit. As a professional pilot, I have to be healthy every day. The minute I feel unhealthy, I have to land.

In other words, the fear lies in applying incorrectly intense focus on that one doctor visit, and the courage lies in spreading out the focus over a lifetime. More simply, when I begin to dread the flight physical, I change my perspective.

Hey you! If you’re feeling afraid, change your perspective. (Don’t worry.)

Lastly, I made my wife watch Field of Dreams with me last night. I had mentioned the film to her and my step-son the other day, and when I tried to summarize it, I couldn’t get through a summary without crying. Weird. Anyhow, recently when we’ve watched a film, I have loved the new-to-me sensation of contemplating what she (a non-Western immigrant) must be thinking as she watches it, considering that she doesn’t know any of the multiple references each film makes and uses in order to be a coherent whole. (For example, forget ((or add to)) ballplayers themselves as being a new entity; think of watching the “I’m melting” line as the ballplayer walks into the cornfield.)

In any case, with all the hysteria and uncertainty and “shuttering” going on, last night, I didn’t want to see the movie from her perspective. I just wanted to imagine what it was like for Ray to rush to the field after his daughter told him there was a man standing on it. I just wanted to imagine seeing a ballplayer standing in the outfield under the lights in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa. I just wanted to imagine that I still lived in America.

Then Pete and H- Sang On That Day

In three years of Seminary coursework, I never did find myself tasked with the Old Testament book of Judges much. Helping edit a friend’s chapter-a-day devotional emails, I recently have been prompted to read it. And I’ve not been disappointed. It’s like Braveheart, Gladiator, and 300 all rolled into one.

This post is my volley into the C-O-V-I-D-1-9 written commentary foray. Setting the scene a bit, I’d say it’s probably best to picture a large post-NFL game parking lot brawl (or better yet maybe COSTCO at the toilet paper aisle) and some mesomorph man annoyingly jumping in only for cheap shots and then hopping right back out again before some seasoned ignoramus can counter-attack.

Early in the book of Judges, an account begins which involves the rare-to-scripture female protagonist. This Deborah is a prophetess who encourages the military leader, Barak, to fight a war. She then warns him, or advises him, however, that the honor (consequent to winning) will be given to a woman. Skipping ahead in the story, we learn that the defeated, fleeing king, Sisera, thinks he has found safe keeping in the house of a friend–having accepted the invitation of the friend’s wife. Picking up the story there, the Bible records, “But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, ‘Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.’ And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple.”

That’s all interesting, fine, and dandy (reminded me of the antler-to-the-neck in Braveheart). But it’s just the setup. What I want us to focus on is Deborah’s (and Barak’s) celebratory song–or the last part at least. It goes:

Out of the window she looked and lamented,
The mother of Sisera through the lattice,
‘Why does his chariot delay in coming?
Why do the hoofbeats of his chariots tarry?’
Her wise princesses would answer her,
Indeed she repeats her words to herself,
‘Are they not finding, are they not dividing the spoil?
A maiden, two maidens for every warrior;
To Sisera a spoil of dyed work,
A spoil of dyed work embroidered,
Dyed work of double embroidery on the neck of the spoiler?’

Mockery. Blatant, pure, and chilling mockery. Deborah goes two levels deep in her scoff. She doesn’t just mock the dead Sisera’s mother, but adds the consolation that she can imagine the “wise princesses” offering. Cold-blooded stuff.

Which brings us full-circle to the hysteria. Here’s our victory song:

You thought government was god of the universe–God in the flesh.

You thought the government could solve all problems.

You bet hearth and home on the government.

And now you’re buying *extra* toilet paper.

Hahahahahaha.

You don’t even know why!

Hahahahahaha.

And you have to explain it to your kids.

Hahahahahaha.

The look on your kids’ faces is judgement from your maker. They know you’re unhinged. They can’t do math. They can’t read. They wouldn’t know what critical thinking was if it hit them square in the jaw. But they know what too much toilet paper looks like.

Hahahahahaha.

H- said, wide-eyed and earnest, “I hope they buy some plungers too–if they’re going to be flushing all that down the pipes.”

Hahahahahaha.

Escape With Me

My most recent pastor loves to commend believing in the Bible even when you don’t understand it. (Most recently, this was communicated in response to Old Testament saints’ polygamy.)

My father wants to write a book about the value of dreaming–not during sleep, but the kind of dreaming where you let your mind just freely choose a desirable future, no matter how likely, and then enjoy the accompanying sensation for as long as you can–even if it that future never comes true.

My wife is woefully unaware of Western Civilization’s most recent two and a half millennia of history, and simultaneously is one of the most happy and hopeful people I know.

My best friend, who is the most principled, and therefore inspiring, person I know, wonders if the coronavirus coverage and government and extra-government response is actually a strategic, coordinated, and intentional effort by those who oppose President Trump to prevent him from winning reelection.

Put another way, I think it’s time to escape for a bit. Will you join me?

****

I like to escape by focusing as hard as I can on something, anything that catches my attention. No more keyboard. No more blog. No more computer. No more news. No more family. No more house. No more job. No more planet. No more universe. Just me and the idea.

Today’s idea is making a vow.

The vehicle which delivered this idea to me is the passage in Judges where one Judge, Jephthah, vows to the LORD to sacrifice as a burnt offering that which comes out of his home upon his victorious arrival–if only the LORD will grant him certain victory. If you’re unfamiliar, his only daughter is “that which” comes out and he sacrifices her, with her encouragement.

I can imagine that some people would point to this story as reason to question scripture’s status as “worthy of study”. To them I would offer this reminder, “Jesus saved my soul. Jesus commended scripture. I’m sticking with Jesus.”

I can imagine that others would draw some ridiculous and irrelevant points about “vowing” and different “covenants” or more simply, “That was then, this is now–there is no need to dwell.”

Then, I can remember that at the end of a recent translation of Homer’s Iliad, or some other ancient classic, the critic commends it for containing characters who behave so inexplicably and unpredictably. In other words, the critic lauded the story for its messiness. The critic, I think, loved the story because it made the reader think, “Hmm. What would I do?” or “Hmm. Would I do the same thing? Have I done the same thing?”

Vowing is an interesting enterprise as it essentially brings into focus our integrity as individuals. Within “vowing” the group, the community, disappears.

In the account recorded in Judges, the situation’s tragedy is compounded by the daughter’s urging her father to keep his vow, his integrity–even though it would mean that she dies because of it.

Keep in mind that these people don’t know Jesus. There is no “personal relationship”. It’s back in ancient history and it’s over in a part of the world when what we call “theocracies” were at least normal, if not the norm. Also, keep in mind literacy rates in bible times and the chance that the daughter knew anything about Yahweh, other than he was her father’s god and some rote memorization of the most memorable laws, would be very difficult to defend. In other words, I think we could insert any other deity’s name and the story would present the same.

Despite all these words, I can’t untangle myself from the two questions, “Why make the vow?” and “Why fulfill the vow?”

Integrity. That’s why.

****

Okay. Escape over.

It was okay. But I got an email from H-‘s school district about COVID-19 during the attempt. Remind me to close that tab next escape-attempt.

The email contains a link to a “comic” on NPR’s website to use to help kids stay stress free. Pictographs? Really? We’re going to survive the pandemic because someone drew pictures?

What should schools do right now? The same thing they should always do, the same thing which they never do. Pack any children you can see into buildings and teach the kids how to read words. Make it clear that we expect everyone of any age to always fight through any sickness. Keep the posture that because of literacy, if you get sick in America, you don’t die. But most importantly, teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words. Teach the kids how to read words.

We don’t need stress-free kids. We need literate adults.

And I just received another email.

I’m over it.

Two emails in less than one hour and four minutes counts as hysteria. This is embarrassing. Every single teacher and administrator involved in public schools should be embarrassed and ashamed for furthering this hysteria.

Continuing Crash Commentary of a Provocative Kind from One Professional Helo Pilot

Some days I wake up and have a lot to say. Today is one of those days. With an eye on poignancy, here goes.

One article collected and laid out the tragic history of sports figures and fatal aviation mishaps. Hmm. Who would we expect to be buzzing around Earth’s sky in heavier than air machines? The homeless? The destitute? Flying is and always will be an activity for the wealthy. There’s nothing surprising about aviation mishap victims having wealth or being renowned personalities.

The real catalyst for this post, however, is the report/advertisement that some Super Bowl commercial (please consider these words in their fullness–the “news” is about “advertising decisions”) has removed a scene with a helicopter from its Sunday ad. This has been done out of respect, they say. I say that they didn’t go far enough. I say that we all haven’t gone far enough.

Why not re-shoot all Super Bowl commercials involving helicopters in their productions? In fact, I do not think we should see an overhead shot of anything. Truly, we should just advertise using cartoons. But no sky shots! And for God’s sake, no clouds!

Additionally, the opening and closing of those super respectful commercials (they should be silent, since helicopters are noisy), should include the disclaimer, “No helicopters were used in the images, filming, or travel methods of any of the humans who had anything to do with this advertisement.” And I want a time stamp, too, like, “The last time a helicopter was used by anyone, including me, who had anything to do with this commercial was _______.” Let’s find out who really respects the victims of the tragedy.

Attention Professional Journalists: Let’s Chat About the Crash

My aim here is to give you the good stuff, the thoughts of a professional helicopter pilot who had to go to work the next day. Most of the following is criticism of your reporting of the crash, not my speculation about the crash. Listen up. You’ll learn a lot.

To begin, you journalists are doing a great disservice to language and how it works (not to mention your reputation) during your reporting. For example, the word “special” in, “He was on a special VFR clearance,” is nothing like “special” in, “Kobe was a special basketball superstar.” In other words, on any given day, every pilot in the sky could simultaneously be on a “special VFR clearance”.

Secondly, after completing every paragraph, reread it and ask yourself, “Is there anything in here which betrays that I have a complete misunderstanding of all things aviation?” If you answer affirmatively on any level, rewrite it. Specifically, pilots don’t ask for “flight following” because they are worried. When I’m worried, I hold my breath, I pace, I shake my head, I purse my lips, I mutter to myself, and I probably do a few other things of which I’m not even aware, too–no different than you. “Flight following” is meaningfully on the same level of flight safety as learning how to fly from someone else before flying solo. It’s absolutely unremarkable.

Thirdly, flying has so much drama inherent to it, or so much “organic” drama, that if you find yourself needing to add some, then you’re clearly not writing about flying. For instance, “Too low for flight following,” (Oooh!) has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the capabilities of the sending and receiving technologies which have been tasked with “following” the flight. In other words, in Iraq, we routinely flew at 100 ft above the ground. This is much lower than Kobe’s flight, and yet our Operations Centers knew exactly where we were every second we were there.

Fourthly, reread your articles for general common sense blunders. Particularly ridiculous are your claims about the differences between IFR and VFR flying. To be clear, whether flying under “Instrument Flight Rules” or “Visual Flight Rules”, whether flying in clouds (fog is just a cloud at the Earth’s surface), whether flying under clouds, whether flying over clouds, or whether flying in skies totally free of clouds, all pilots fly by eyesight.

Do you copy? You’re not doing your job responsibly when you’re not doing your research or using your brain. Admit when you don’t know what you’re writing about. You’re embarrassing yourself.

What caused the crash? Poor judgement. Bad decision making. At some level, once removed, the weather can be called a factor. But clouds are merely invisible gaseous water vapor that has condensed into visible liquid water. They cause daydreams; they are the outward cause of lightning and its thunder. The condensation can occur strongly enough to cause itself to fall to the earth as precipitation. But clouds do not cause pilots to crash.

Pilots cause pilots to crash.

We know that.

That’s why we’re so special.