Adversarial Antics
By R. D. Flavin

2-20-2015


     If at first you don't succeed – cheat. That's what Starfleet Cadet James T. Kirk did to finally 'pass' the no-win Kobayashi Maru test (as explained in 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). 'Honest' philosophers seldom make for good hunters, as often a degree of deception is required to bring down one's intended prey. Ditto with geneticists and certain medical 'cures' which involve tricking a cell to behave differently than it naturally would (i.e., don't attack these cells, but kill those cells instead). Sociopolitical activists and military planners are often faced with deception for a greater good (the grand 'White Lie'), still some adversarial antics go too far. Like the on-going 'soda wars' [insert meme of little girl asking “Why not both?”]. Of course, as a lapsed Catholic, I'm still waiting for RC to make a comeback!


A Coke versus Pepsi comparative chart.


     We must accept that 'rules' are fairly modern (that is, if you count the Code of Hammurabi ca. 1754 BCE and its laws concerning pouring a 'short' beer [Law 108]). Parts of Leviticus is wicked harsh, the Magna Carta Libertatum was a little too generous with the land-barons, the British Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701 were steps in a better direction, yet still favored the have's over the have-not's. The 1776 United States Declaration of Independence was a noble effort at government equality, though women's rights and slavery was deemed a necessary compromise. The 1945 Charter of the United Nations will have to do until at sometime in the future we agree upon some thing akin to the Prime Directive as the guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets (in the 'Star Trek' fictional universe). Meanwhile, most think of boxing rules (Marquess of Queensberry rules) or playing card rules (poker, for instance, has a multitude of variations). Some would hold that rules are meant to be broken, though anthropology would agrue the more we agree, the better our chances of survival.



Supposedly Wild Bill Hickok's “Dead man's hand,” Tage Olsin

     Competition (Latin competītiōn-em, that is, an agreement or judicial demand, also a rivalry < competĕre) which may be, depending on context, either a good thing or something bad. In America, we often cite the notorious feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. Republican versus Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives, and sometimes the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees (though most have gotten past the Baby Ruth stage). Some argue a little competition is a good thing, though as with hookers and blow, all things in moderation seems the prevalent advice. Now, adversarial may extend beyond mere disagreement and gamesmanship. It can consume, blind one to reason, and cause irreparable harm. Many are willing to bet it all, pay the ultimate price, and die for what they believe in. Please be mindful that 'belief' itself has the inherent connotation of error. Yet, we all play the game of life and death. Not playing? Inaction is a choice with consequences. Let's discuss antics...

     I can't get too personal or I face becoming a character in 1942's Casablanca: “Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that.” Being a skeptic, yet maintaining spiritual strength, is more demanding than pre-frontal pilates. Back to legumes and antics...


 
Ronnie Lane at the BBC 1974.

Poor old granddad, I laughed at all his words, I thought he was a bitter man, He spoke of women's ways...
They'll trap you, then they use you, before you even know, for love is blind and you're far too kind, don't ever let it show...
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger
The Can Can's such a pretty show, they'll steal your heart away, but backstage, back on earth again, the dressing rooms are grey...
They come on strong and it ain't too long, before they make you feel a man, but love is blind and you soon will find, you're just a boy again...
When you want her lips, you get a cheek, makes you wonder where you are, if you want some more and she's fast asleep, then she's twinkling with the stars...
Poor young grandson, there's nothing I can say, you'll have to learn, just like me, and that's the hardest way...
Ooh la la, ooh la la, yea yea...
I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger, I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was stronger...

From Ooh La La by Faces, written by Ronnies Wood and Lane, 1973; Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

     Regrets, I've had a few..., continuing the lyrical theme.  Yeah, I wish I hadn't littered so much in the past and even field-stripping my cigarette butts weren't good enough.  We apologize with words, however we bring about 'true' change with positive actions.  Saying "I'm sorry" for my previous stupidity does little for me and probably less for readers of this column.  Now, let's get back to adversarial antics, shall we?

     The familiar idiom, "One's own worst enemy," surmises an individual in an adversarial conflict with him or herself.  A recent (and most sad) example is former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani who seems to be worsening his questionable image with every new word he utters.  Dude really needs to shut up in the worst way and with immediacy.  My guess is it's a case of FOX NEWS FEVER and the only cure is a long walk off a short pier or something similar.  We must pick our battles carefully and pick up our trash with more regularity.

drawing on 17 will get one 5 to 10 in some states,
Rick

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