Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Badass

When you live in one place too long it becomes easy to think that the entire world lives, and thereby thinks, like you do. This is why travel and literature are so important. Travel, I don’t mean tour bus sightseeing, but true travel – wherein you meet, interact, and hopefully to some small extent live like the locals opens your eyes to the fact that many of the things we consider to be “normal” are completely crazy to people who weren’t raised in the same society as you were. Toilets are a good example.

When I worked in Japan the company had a Western style sit down toilet installed in the company bathroom. That stall became my private throne room as nobody else in the office wanted to put their bare butt where someone else had just plopped their fat ass. The Japanese toilet looks like a porcelain baby bassinet set into the floor, you don’t sit you squat. To me squatting was a bit weird, to them using a Western toilet was just plain unsanitary.

When I worked at Boeing I worked on the lavatories and we kept getting complaints from Middle Eastern and Asian airlines that their toilet seats were breaking. After some investigation we discovered that instead of sitting on the toilet seats the passengers were actually standing on them. We hadn’t designed for this and consequently the plastic seats were breaking. I think that once you realize that the vast majority of the world’s population views your toilet habits as nasty and gross you start to realize that not everybody wants what we think they want.

You may be asking “what the heck do I care about how people use the bathroom?” Well it’s not really about bathroom habits it’s about understanding the world, what motivates people what makes them tick. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney could have used a little more of this “worldliness” when they misused their extraordinary power to declare war at their discretion. Both men lived sell-out lives: was George Bush among the top applicants to Yale or Harvard, no, but he took advantage of the fact that his people knew their people, and undeservingly he walked on through the hallowed doors. Was Dick Cheney, a lifetime politician, the best business mind that Haliburton could find? No, but he had a thick Rolodex and he parlayed that into a multimillion dollar a year salary. When you look at it in these terms it’s no wonder that the post invasion behavior of the Iraqis is, to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, a complete mystery.

There is no doubt that if the Iraqis would have just played ball with us they would have, right now, a much more pleasant lifestyle. If they would have just sat back and let us install a government, rebuild what we bombed, pump their oil they’d, for the most part, be living a much easier life: no roving death squads, no power outages, no militants wanting to drag them back into the middle ages. I’m sure at one time or another Bush said to Cheney “heck Dick we’ve been puppets all our lives and look how good we have it, why won’t they just play ball?” What they didn’t understand was the mentality of the badass.

The badass is that guy who refuses to be told what to do, despite the fact that if he does what he’s told to do his life would be much easier. Cool Hand Luke was a badass. The North Vietnamese were badasses. The Iraqi’s are badasses. They ain’t gonna play our game, as a matter of fact their game is going to be whatever our game isn’t. When you understand the mentality of the badass you start to understand why Iraq is moving toward Iran. Iran and Iraq are blood enemies, but our game is to keep them separated so their game becomes one of developing close ties. This why we failed in Vietnam and this is why we are destined to fail in Iraq. No matter how much good we do they are going to hate us for it, it’s jujitsu, the more power we exert the more powerful our opposition becomes.

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