Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wouldn't it have been easier to...

Geek Arguments #1
I am in no small part, a bit of a geek. I've argued about Star Wars and Star Trek minutiae as though knowing how a light saber worked or untangling time paradoxes earned me money. I can argue over comics, sci-fi movies, football strategy, and even dabble a bit in video game smugness (for no reason I can think of). This time, prompted by what should be an obvious answer about a movie nobody cares about, I just have to set the record straight for nobody in particular. That and I just can't talk politics anymore for a while.    

Ben Affleck likes to relate the story that during the production of Armageddon (a terrible film that I will watch over and over) that when he asked the question "Wouldn't it have been easier to train the astronauts to drill?" that director Micheal Bay told him to "shut the f**k up." This of course was the proper answer. Because Ben's question was stupid and he should have just shut the f**k up. 

Let me state definitively that NO, it wouldn't have been easier to train astronauts to drill. Everyone would have died. Are we clear? Oh, you want an explanation?

While it is true that astronauts are smart, most holding several degrees as well as being engineers, the idea that they would be able to immediately be able to grasp all the fine points of drilling in the week or so of training they would have received is the height of elitist thinking. Proficiency or even mastery of Discipline A does not automatically translate into easy of learning semi-related Discipline B. The intellectual arrogance here is staggering, starting with the assumption that "drilling" must be easy. But rather than get into a long line of theory of the nuances of mining and instead I'm going to use the film itself show why this is terrible assumption.
Wouldn't trust them with a potato gun.
First, when the hero, Harry Stamper, arrives at NASA it's originally because government stole his drill design to use on Mars but now want to use it on the asteroid, but can't make the damned thing work. Let me say that again : a group of NASA scientists, engineers and the man the NASA director called the 'smartest man on the planet' can't figure out how to make a particular drill work after presumably weeks of going at it. Presumably one or two of the engineers present even had some mining expertise, but it still didn't help them. On the other hand, Harry the not NASA engineer arrives and after looking at the equipment for less than a minute not only tells them the issues they're probably experiencing (and he's correct) but also diagnoses the problem. But mining must be simple, right? The equipment a breeze to operate?  

Secondly, when the spaceship actually arrives on the asteroid, Harry's team faces a number of unexpected challenges. First, they overshoot the landing and instead of the intended drilling site land on an 'iron plate.' Would the less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miners have even tried to drill there? Assuming they did, the first drill bit breaks after ten feet, something Max recognizes by feel. Would a less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miner have recognized it as quickly as Max? Then, the other experienced miner Chick defers to Harry who decides they need to break out a special bit, referred to in the film as 'the judge.' Would a less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miner been able to make the determination that they weren't just unlucky? Would they have been able to handle the gas pockets, the ones the experienced miners couldn't? 

And finally, would a less experienced trained for a week Astronaut miners have taken the Time to Drill Card as gospel, dropped off the nuke and evacuated? Especially when you consider that the Astronaut who was there was prepared and willing to shoot someone did just that! The weird part is that based upon the data at hand, the Astronaut made the right call - they should have dumped the nuke because by all rights they shouldn't reached the depth needed. 

Honestly, when Chick's son called him "that salesman"...
It was only the drillers expertise that saved the entire operation. Yes, because NASA chose the drillers over the astronauts (in this movie universe) the world was saved. I'm not even going to mention the other asteroid movie of the time went exactly the other way. Okay, I'll mention it. How did that work out for them then? Right, everyone on the spaceship had to make the ultimate sacrifice so the planet only got a little blowed up. Got it? And since I've brought Deep Impact up now, anyone know why there were carrying the extra nukes? 

So, this is why to question of wouldn't sending astronauts have been simpler in Armageddon, the answer is a resounding NO. Teaching roughnecks how not to die in space clearly was. I realize that astronauts are smart. Very smart. But smart doesn't translate to a universal expertise.  

Can we let this go now? And someone tell Affleck to shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentines...and thoughts of Love.

If you've never had a regret, then you've never been in love. 

Love rarely goes perfectly. Most of us have a regret that calls back to us when we think about love, because love is usually an unscheduled demanding mess. It's two people meeting at just the right moment in their lives to open to the possibilities, and then willing to work together to make those possibilities into something akin to tangible. Love is shared highs and lows, because we have a tendency to take the sunshine for granted if we've never stood in the rain. Love is personal growth, cooperation and sacrifice in one constantly changing little corner of reality you're trying to make into a cozy home for your soul. But because it's not neat, not pre-cast, not set, and directions vary, things don't always come out just right. And it those mistakes we make, those moments where we feel our hearts hang in the balance, that we come to regret.  

Far too often we are just living our lives and end up with love unexpectedly, stumbling across it like a root in the dark.  Unsure in our actions because life comes with opinions but not instructions, and instead of working to an understanding of who we are and sometimes afraid of what we want, we do things with grand intentions that in time we come to regret.  Our actions are the multitude. Maybe it's benign neglect. Maybe we overwork it. Or we expect magic because magic fills our dreams. And then when something goes awry, comes regret. 

Awry? We've all said something we regretted, or perhaps worse, left something unsaid until too late.  Made assumptions that we never took the time to correct. Set our expectations too high or too low.  Or we regret giving up too soon. Or staying too long. Holding too tight or letting things get out of hand. Giving too much or not putting enough effort. Sometimes the moments we regret are seemingly insignificant, and sometimes that moment looms over us blocking out the world. And there we stand in our pathway of life, filled with regret. 

But regret meant that the feelings that birthed them were real.  That the love was real. We need our regret.  It has the potential to teach us, if only because we don't want to return to feeling. This is why love has the capacity to make us better.  And while we hope to be able use that regret to perhaps strengthen the love we have, mostly regret is a lesson we take with us going forward should we find love again.
Ah, Sporty.
As I'm not young anymore, I possess regrets. Words unspoken mostly. A few assumptions that may have limited what I thought was possible. Hopefully... I've learned. 

So why am I bringing this up? Why is this worthy of the time for me to write it and you to read it? An essay on regret on Valentine's? Because maybe you still have time to heel your regrets. Rein them in before they run away with you. A chance to ...to say the thing unsaid, or realize you've stayed too long. To get back on the course to being in love. Because even though my moments aren't always the brightest, because I've been there I don't want anyone else to have to.go. 

Love begets regret. But then love is the parent of many things.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

In the Age of Trump

This is a political-ish post. 


I don't want to make this blog completely political. There are many other sites that can devote the research necessary on a daily basis for better reporting than I can with a few spare hours here and there. Although I do will occasionally want to make a point or clarify something that I don't think the general media is framing well, an all politics format is just too much of an energy expenditure right this moment.

Not that the idea isn't tempting.

I think the proper phrasing to describe the current situation for a writer like myself would use the term "goldmine," or might would include the allusion to "fish in barrel." The degree of snark alone could be measured on truck scales. The jokes practically write themselves. He told judges that he'd "see them in court." They're making up terror attacks and telling the women to dress sexy. Who is this guy?

I realize that every new administration has its moments where it is still finding it's feet, but a president more obsessed with the idea that everyone like him and less concerned with doing the doing the job we voted him into is scary.  It's like watching a train wreck that YOU ARE IN happen in slow motion. The sad part is the guy behind him is not only worse, he knows how to play the game.

If they would just stop pitching them right over the plate.