Thursday, 22 May 2014

Shipbuilding

Los Angeles, California. Constructive Hobby Recreation - NARA - 532247 I was about nine when my dad took me to visit a friend who was building a large wooden steamboat. It was all framed in, and really impressive. Giant ribs, each pair cut to unique curvatures, fitted into the keel at precise tolerances; each structural member crafted out of a specific wood for that part of the ship. It was a true work of art.

I asked my dad how they did that, and he said, "They study all their lives. Just learning how to read the plans is a significant accomplishment." And then he said something that's stuck with me: "Imagine: it took these guys a lifetime to learn how to build boats, and a year to get this far on this one, but you and I could pick up an axe and a sledge hammer and completely destroy it in minutes with no training at all."

I think about that when people admire military prowess, or consider torture an "art", or are proud of their ability to shoot holes in others' theories. It's a very cheap skill.

Show me what you've built.


(Photo courtesy of Rondal Partridge, Federal Security Agency - National Youth Administration, and Wikimedia Commons.)
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