Sunday, May 23, 2010

Failure is The First Option

In the movie Apollo13, Ed Harris portrayed Gene Kranz and uttered these (unfortunately) unforgettable words:
We've never lost an American in space, we're sure as hell not gonna lose one on my watch! Failure is not an option.
I have no idea whether Ed Kranz actually said those words at that time. No matter now. While the words may have been inspirational at the time, they have become mental pablum for people who want something to happen but are unable or unwilling accomplish the task themselves. Instead, the mental pablumists simply delegate the work to others, then demonstrate their leadership ability by saying something along the line of "Failure is not an option."

I don't know from which planet these people hearken, but on this planet, in this universe, failure is the most likely outcome. Unadulterated success, on the other hand, is the least likely option. Success results not from platitudes, but from the cleverness and hard work of talented people struggling against harsh reality.

There is another platitude that sets me off. It is some variation of:
You can do anything you put your mind to. You just have to believe in yourself.
This too is crappola. If you disagree, I ask you to help out and put your mind to going back in time and preventing the holocaust. Please put your mind to stopping the spread of terrorism, or AIDS, or malaria. Put your mind to stopping the oil now gushing into Gulf. Balance the federal budget. Levitate six feet off the ground. Get Charlie Sheen off television. Go ahead. Give it a try. If the going gets too tough, you can just quit and say "I guess I didn't believe in myself."

That brings us to my YouTube clip of the day. The gentleman below is going to prove that you can do anything you put your mind to. He's going to do that by breaking a board over his head. I'll point out beforehand that breaking a board over one's head is considerably easier than, for example, solving our energy crisis, freeing a single innocent person from prison, or getting Alec Baldwin to give it a rest. Nonetheless, it's worth a shot.

Now without further ado (and I apologize for the prior ado), watch and find out if the young man proves me wrong.


It seems as if the video is no longer available due to claims of a copyright violation. Imagine that. You publish a video on YouTube, and you provide an embed code so others may embed the video in their blog or elsewhere, and then people go and do that very thing. Imagine that.

Sorry if you missed the video. It was pretty funny to see the young man attempt to break a board over his head twenty times or so to prove that you can do anything you put your mind to. It was really funny to see him stop about half way through and say "This is harder than I thought."  I'm still laughing.  He did, however, finally break a board over his head, so I guess he proved his point.

We're Number One! Unfortunately!

I'm unabashed in the love and pride I feel for this country. By this country, I of course mean the good ol' USA. Besides the circumstance of my birth, one feature that warms my heart to this little slice of Earth is its willingness to listen to me. Or at least its willingness to allow me to speak. At least for now.

That's important, because sometimes you have to find a way to tell the one you love that she it is making a big mistake. So here it goes. Wish me luck.

I think we imprison far too many of our fellow countrymen. I think we have too many laws, and we criminalize too many people. And I hate to say this, but we convict way too many people who are actually innocent. We even execute some of them. I know you don't like to hear it, but we need to talk.