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Wednesday, January 11, 2012


This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the things in life is people using old sayings without really understanding them, and so applying them where they do not actually belong.

"A poor craftsman blames his tools" was said to me recently. The problem here is that you can be the better craftsman, but if your tools are bronze and the other craftsman's tools are are iron, he will get the job done faster. Is it wrong for the craftsman to blame his tools for not being able to do the job as fast as the man with better tools?

"History is written by the winners." This one implies that only the winner gets to tell his side of what happened. An example is the Punic Wars where we learn the Romans were the good guys, because they won and the Carthaginians do not get to tell their side because . . . well there are no Carthaginians. Again, it is not necessarily true. We (the United States of America and our allies) defeated the Japanese Empire by the end of the Second World War, and we (and the world) all know the Japanese were the bad guys in that war. Take some time to read a Japanese history book that Japanese children study to learn about the war. You will get a very different viewpoint on the war and, oh yes, the Japanese were not the bad guys. In point of fact, with modern archeology even the Carthaginians are having their side of the story told about the Punic Wars. (Even the Philistines and the Canaanites are getting their side of the story told, which differs somewhat from the Israelite's side we are more familiar with.)

Any time some one uses and old saying to make a point, take some time to consider the saying and its ramifications. In the first instance, the reference was used to disparage the skill of a player who was having abysmal die roll luck, and yet in a game that is entirely dependent on die rolls for every action (even how far you can move), no matter how good your plan is if you cannot roll at least as well (or your opponents roll at least as badly) you are going to lose. Your tools (the die rolls) are at fault, not your skill.

Ah, but then remember Napoleon, who was known to ask when a man appeared for promotion: "Is he lucky?" But then, Napoleon was not asking if the man simply had good luck, he was asking was the man "prepared and thoughtful." Because to borrow from another saying "Fortune favor the prepared." Napoleon noted that any Commander must constantly look around himself and ask "if the enemy suddenly appeared there, what would I do?" If he does not have an answer, then he is not a good commander.