Three men sat engrossed in a game of dominoes in a saloon bar and from time to time they chatted and supped their beer.
One was in his twenties, single and quite handsome. Another was a debonair easy going type in his first decade of wedlock.
The last was greying , portly and middle aged, well past his prime.
‘ I’ve just about had my fill of women,’ said the youngest, ‘give me a good beer and a smoke any day.’
‘ If you’ve got any sense stay single ,’ said debonair with a shrug of his shoulders.
‘ The only thing they are good at is nagging,’ said the older man, and he gave a wry smile as he laid his dominoe.
The conversation continued , each sighting the fair sex and extolling the virtues of misogyny.
Then in walked an attractive blonde, stunningly dressed she glided to the bar on her high heels.
The players were silent they stared at this goddess, and all they had said was totally erased in that mutual admiring glance.
It was a mild autumn day and Rob sat on an old fallen log to ruminate. The tree branches were beautiful golden tresses in the setting sun. Rob watched as a solitary beech leaf floated down, doing a random dance as it made for its final resting place among its fellows. The floor of the wood was covered and he was reminded of the world of men, who like the leaves, live in the green sap of sunlight and very soon lie in the brown earth their worldly time spent.
Perhaps thought Rob, I could learn something from a leaf which goes to rest serenely, making no fuss, joining the dead hordes gone before. The leaf lives with small ambition, content to drink from the great trunk,happy to be held up to the sun and rain; the leaf fulfills its destiny and by so doing adds its contribution to the universe.
This was the third meeting of the Galatic Liason Committee on the mountains of the moon.
” This race is very dangerous I think we have no alternative but annihilation ” , said Farloss.
“We need to give them more time , after all they are largely confined to their own planet”, said Jardens as he stared at the committee of eight.
” That is true , but as you know most up and coming civilisations have put aside their differences long before the industrial age is upon them”, answered Farloss.
“The whole planet is in turmoil and many of its creatures are suffering , just see how insensitive they are to each other’s well-being, we cannot let it continue” , said Nantor.
” That is true but this race may, have something special to offer the Galatic Federation just think how quickly they have advanced, and I believe this is due to the conflict”, said Jardens.
After much heated debate the president rose to his feet, ” well friends you have heard the evidence, weigh it carefully, remember if we go for annihilation it will take millions of years for recovery”.
The committee was equally split and the president cast his vote in favour of one more visitation. So the earth and all its teeming millions escaped until the next scrutiny.
Mars had been declared lifeless. Now it was time for real humans to set foot on the red planet.The world watched as the first men walked on the dusty surface in triumph; superlatives filled the media and at NASA great cheers resounded.
The next day both men were dead. They lay waxen like old Egyptian Mummies , their skin stretched and pock-marked heads almost skeleton- like. It looked as if both men had died in their sleep from a cause unknown. The situation was dire, as the whole trip was designed around manpower.
The next day their bodies began to dissolve and all organic materials in the ship began to break up and turn to dust. The watching world was filled with horror. The eccentric scientist Coburne Cox declared it was a virus that had laid dormant for millions of years and we in our exuberant foolishness had fed the beast.
Other more religious groups spoke of the wrath of God on the human race that had gotten too clever for its own good.
Jimmy stared fascinated by the hairspring-wheel : he could hardly believe such a tiny spring could ever be made, let alone act as if it were alive , coiling and uncoiling. Spinning first one way , slowing , then the other way , driving the tiny notched wheel that measured out the ticks of the timepiece. He looked in boyish wonder at the the great mainspring which did not seem to move: it was releasing its pent up energy slowly like a great dam of water might drive a turbine wheel.The only outlet of power the mainspring had was the hairspring- wheel which slowly sapped its energy until the next wind up was necessary.
‘What’s that tiny screw on the top of the hairspring wheel Grandfather? Jimmy gazed up into those old grey knowledgeable eyes. The old face wrinkled in smiles ‘ Its the spring adjuster and alters the time-keeping of the watch making it fast or slow’. The boy gazed again lost in wonder and Grandfather clicked his pocket watch shut.
‘ Come ‘he said , ‘ it’s time for lunch’.
When we consider the difference between virtuosity and Genius reasonable explanations are difficult and that is why we often read he was a gifted genius. I give a few examples in the realm of music.
Can a person be a genius at playing the piano? No since virtuosity is achievable by practice. Thalberg , Moscheles and Raff were all virtuoso pianists and wrote large quantities of music. Their music is rarely heard and largely forgotten today. Thalberg had astonishing technical skills and played many famous piano concertos to audiences of his day. These men also taught composition and counterpoint.
Works of genius have something in them that lasts. Genius cannot be taught but given the right material virtuosity can. A work of musical genius sticks in the general mind of mankind. It does not need to be technically difficult but it must move the soul in a memorable way. It is a lasting creation people want to hear again and again, and passes down the generations.
The use of the concept of luck to make us feel good is prevalent. For example: the bullet grazed my ear I was lucky to be alive , just a few seconds later and I would have been killed outright: my luck was in I won a thousand pounds.
This is the usual way we humans look at events; we ask what effect they have had on us and if it is good we speak of luck. In the event of a possible catastrophe we simply consider how lucky we were to have escaped. Should a serious setback occur we immediately speak of how much worse it could have been. In spite of frost bite I was lucky to lose only two fingers.
The opposite of luck is also made personal: but for an unlucky spin I would have won the jackpot. In this subtle way we protect ourselves from the rough and tumble of day to day events.
The statistician has a completely different viewpoint, luck means nothing to him , his only concern is with probability. He views from the outside looking in objectively. So many men between forty and fifty will die of heart disease. He is untouched by the human tragedy.
The gambler takes luck very seriously indeed , inspite of the fact his belief often ruins him. He sincerely believes that he is lucky; it’s not the laws of chance which govern the outcome but his choice. Or he has the other warped view that the laws of chance conform to his choice.
The advertiser uses human weakness to get us to gamble. He shows a picture of a real but ordinary person who has won a large sum and we make the link.