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Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Steve Cole reports:

I was watching an old episode of Deadliest Catch last night. One of the crab boats sank, leaving the crew of six floating in arctic waters that will kill a man in ten minutes. (An insulated survival suit gives you a few hours, a lifeboat gives you a day or so.) Several crab boats (which are "ships" about a hundred feet long) stopped making money to search the area, along with the state police boat and the Coast Guard. It's risky enough being out there to make money (another man died later that same day not many miles away) without risking your life to look for somebody who probably has about a one percent chance of being alive when you find him.

This reminded me of many similar events. You have all heard stories of the US in Vietnam and Korea, when several planes were shot down trying to find one downed pilot. You have probably all read the first chapter of Starship Troopers in which the ship captain does some very dangerous maneuvers to pick up the boatload of Marines rocketing up from the planet. You ask yourself "Why not just cut your losses." I learned why not in the military. It's not about THIS time. It's about NEXT time. Would any fisherman ever take a job on a dangerous Bering Sea crab boat if he knew that the last poor fool who fell overboard was left to drown when nobody took time away from making money to look for him? Would any pilot fly over enemy territory if he knew that the last pilot who was shot down was left to be hacked to death by irate farmers for scattering bombs over their country? Would any starship trooper climb into his drop pod if he knew that on the last mission the captain would not take the risk to save an entire platoon of 40 men?

It's never about THIS time. It's always about NEXT time.