Tuesday, 7 April 2009

useful weapons

While Ed is learning the value of flame throwers (low) cavalry (lower) and machine guns (very very high) in the first world war, my other son is imbibing another lesson. Before I go on to that lesson, though, I want to come back to Ed and his teacher Mr R, and ask -- why is this specifically a WW1 position? When aren't machine guns more valuable than cavalry? I was reading a pretty cool book the other day where, through the magic of time travel (another valuable weapon), the Confederate Army was gifted with a bunch of AK 47s -- and proceeded to whip the boys in blue to a frazzle. I'm sure machine guns would have been equally decisive in Napoleon's day, or Charlemagne's, or Ceasar's. In more modern times, I think that Dillinger or Tony Soprano would look pretty stupid showing up at the heist with a troop of light horse like the one in the picture.
And now back to Sam, who has spent the last month writing a year's worth of papers. Ah, how well I remember those days! University for me was a time of extremes -- months of indolence followed by short sharp periods of intense activity. If I had spent my life working as hard as I did in the last weeks of a university term, I might now be dead of a heart attack, but I would almost certainly merit a lengthy and glowing obituary. Conversely, if I had spent my life not working as hard as I didn't in the first months of that term, I might ... well, I might still be in university.
Sam's great discovery is not the value of forward planning (like father like son -- I never learned that either). He has learned that, given the proper tools, he can perform seeming miracles of industry. And by proper tools I do not mean flame throwers or gramnivorous quadrupeds. I am talking about coffee. Until now he has eschewed the stuff but, I could write all night, Dad, he told me over the phone yesterday, in an awed voice. I finished the essay at 4:00 am and I wasn't even tired!
I smiled to myself. And so it begins.

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