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The PJ Tatler

by
Patrick Richardson

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November 10, 2012 - 4:44 am

Given what I believe is coming in the form of a complete meltdown of the American economy — and with it the nation, and right behind it civilization in general — perhaps it is time to ponder what it really means to be competent.

A few weeks ago I posted Rudyard Kipling’s profound poem “IF” which to me in many ways describes what it means to be a man, today I turn to another sage, Robert A. Heinlein, to explain to us what competence really is.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

One only has to look at the people sitting in the wreck of their homes in New York and New Jersey, waiting for government help that will likely never come, to realize very few of us are prepared a couple of days without power, let alone for what’s coming.

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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