Perspective makes all the difference

Today Sippican Cottage posted an old video showing the twin towers being built. It makes for some very interesting viewing. Sadly, the clip makes for more interesting viewing now than it did before the towers came down.

Watching those great big pieces of steel being lifted into place, one can’t help but think about how they came down. Hearing the announcer describe how the twin towers were being built with a new type of construction that allowed the building to be supported by the outside frame, you can’t help but think about how that type of construction was instrumental in causing the towers to collapse. And watching the propaganda about how these buildings were bringing people together from all around the world…..

But there is no need to belabor the point. Just about anyone who watches the above clip will come up with a similar set of reactions. What I find really interesting about the above clip is not the immediate reaction that it generates. Rather, I think it is an interesting example of how radically our interpretation of past events can change based on events that happen after the fact.

We generally think that we know how we will look back on events as we are living through them. We think we know what will be happy memories and what will be sad. We think we know what we will value and what we will not. But life has a way of changing how we perceive the events that happened in our past.

And in that context, I can’t but help think of Jesus’ story of the beggar and the rich man.

End of the month

End of the month is traditionally a day when we try to ship everything that we possibly can so as to post the highest possible dollar value of shipments for the month. It can be quite hectic. But there is an even stronger tradition in these parts of hunting deer after Thanksgiving–and that’s not limited to men. C.M., the shipping supervisor, is out in those hills, too.

Last week I was asked to help out in shipping today due to C.M.’s absence and I was expecting a horrible day. But it was pretty uneventful. Tomorrow will probably be horrible. Sorry, but it will. The first of the month I have to cram out as many reports as I can, and one of the harder ones to put together requires some input from the people who are off hunting to do properly. Also, something I did today wasn’t documented as desired so they want me to go back and document it tomorrow.

But, today really wasn’t bad, and I am glad for that. There is this one shipment which is not going to be ready to ship until late today which we have instructions to ignore the usual, picky process for this customer and give the shipment to a special pickup late tonight. The trucker who picks up tonight is going to bring the freight to our usual truckers tomorrow. We are doing this hocus-pocus so that we can say we shipped more stuff in November. It’s dumb and it is going to cause us more work. But, today, it was pretty harmless for me.

Essay of the Week: 11/29/09-12/5/09

On the Knife’s Edge makes a persuasive case that Yemen will turn into a disaster that will affect the stability of the Middle East as a whole.

That being said, you only need to read the first two pages. Their policy prescriptions are not worth much even though the problem they outline is very real. Also, they should be noted that most of Yeman’s water is being used to produce qat (or Khat or however you want to spell it), not food. In fact the horrible effects of qat is the main reason that Yeman’s problems are so insurmountable.

The Mystery Of UP

Today I watched Up.

I think the thing that struck me most while I was watching it was how much of the movie was written solely for adults. I mean, how many kids watching that movie would have been able to figure out that the old man’s wife could not have kids?

It makes you wonder why Pixar does such things. Granted, it is common wisdom that for a children’s movie to be successful it should appeal to the adults as well as to the children. But it is hard to think of any other children’s movie that has so much in it that goes completely over a child’s head. The only ones that come close are other Pixar flicks.

To be sure, Shrek had a lot of parody in it that a child would miss. But the parody worked on its own terms for little kids. They did not have to get the parody to enjoy the movie. And maybe I am wrong, but I think that there is an awful lot of stuff in Up that kids just won’t get.

That is not to say that kids won’t enjoy the movie, but it strikes me that it will never become a favorite of the little ones on par with Toy Story or Lion King. And if the people behind Pixar have any brains, they had to realize that it was going to be this way when they were sending it out the door.

So it makes you wonder why they do it. You would think they would make even more money if they geared it more toward little kids. I mean, adults watch Pixar’s stuff. But kids would watch it over and over again if they geared it more toward them. Kids have time and loyalty that most adults lack.

The only thing I can think of is that a lot of people in Pixar would rather be making movies for adults, but don’t feel that they can get away with their anti-modernist streak if they did so.

Go Rin No Sho

Speed is not part of the true Way of strategy. Speed implies that things seem fast or slow, according to whether or not they are in rhythm. Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast.

I was reading A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. It’s a book about sword fighting and strategy, but I found it interesting to think how his ideas can be applied to juggling.

The posture he describes in his “Water Book” is a great description of a correct juggling stance. He also talks about deliberate use of peripheral vision—”The Gaze in Strategy”, and his description of how to do it and how it works is also useful. His description of how to use a sword is well applied to holding clubs.

My favorite part was in his “Wind Book” when he talks about speed. The beginning paragraph I quoted at the top of this post, but the entire section is a good description of how juggling should feel. Reading this section reminded me of this video: Last Day in Penza.