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Archive for August, 2009

My first response to Picasso’s Bull has always been, “I could do that.”

Well, of course.

It’s a rusty bicycle seat and handlebars stuck together. So in that sense, the answer is simple. The only difference between us is that he did it, and I didn’t. That’s it.

bull's head - picasso

But the answer is not just simple. It’s also profound.

What was it exactly? More importantly, I want figure out how this applies to me. This thin line between go and stop, commit and reject. Or how about between trial and success? How close might I really be?

When I get myself into this – my personal “Picasso Exercise”, I drill in and down, trying to figure out if there is more to figure out. And within a few seconds, I know that it has nothing to do with the artist or the sculpture. All the questions start to come, and my curiosity at the simplicity – and the complexity – of it. “Why didn’t I think of that?” It’s clear that it has nothing to do with the sculpture. It has to do with me.

It has everything to do with me.

What made him think of it? Why did he do it? Did he make any money from it? Was he trying to “say something” with it? Did he do it simply because he thought of it, and because he could? Was it a “why-why not” thing?

What’s the difference between you and anyone else?

Maybe not that much, maybe everything. But consider this: What did it really take for Picasso to create Head of a Bull ? Really. No Really.

We need to consider what makes up that seemingly fine line of difference between stalling and executing. Is this really just a matter of doing it, whatever it is? I’ve heard many say, “Don’t think too much, just do it.” Is there a gap between you and where you want to be? Between what you’re doing and what you want to do? How wide is it? What is it exactly that you and I have to muster to close the gap? What is it that is within me, that drives me to… …or holds me back from…?

When leading our country in the great vision of going to the moon, President Kennedy said, “… we choose to go to the moon…and do the others things – not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”

So – was Picasso’s Bull easy? Or was it hard? Take a moment – go back and look at it. Study it for a moment.

What is it inside of us that propels us? Inspires us? Or simply delivers us to a place where and when we decide to do the thing – whatever it is?

Don’t answer these questions too quickly.

It is impossible for me to conclude anything else but this: It is for me to simply decide. That which I want to do, or what I should do – I can choose to do. And it may not be that simple. We are complex after all. There’s a lot going on “in there”. But this one thing I know: It is up to me.

I am not done with this bull-thing yet. Perhaps I won’t be for a long time. Perhaps maybe never completely.

I’d like to know what you think.

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Ballistic Missile Test

Ballistic nuclear missiles are a nasty business.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of an irresponsible or rogue government are a nastier one. North Korea threatening to turn the United States into a “Sea of Fire” – now that’s just downright entertaining.

For now. Sort of. But perhaps it won’t be forever.

They’re dangerous – nuclear missiles, I mean. They’re nuclear after all. But that’s really just the armed warhead we’re talking about. A ballistic missile does not have to have a nuclear weapon attached to it to be dangerous. The Taepodong 2 (the North Korean version of a modified Soviet-designed SCUD surface–to-surface missile) missile weighs nearly 174,500 pounds without the warhead; a US Minute Man III weighs about 72,000 pounds. Even a truckload of 3rd grader’s drawing pads and Magic Markers falling from the sky at terminal velocity is going to break whatever it falls on.

How about this analogy: Some people worry over the effects of drinking too much alcohol. Of course. But If you drink too much of anything thing, you’re probably going to get sick. Only so much can reasonably fit in there at any one time. We’ll agree – alcohol is different in its nature than milk, and likewise, a nuclear weapon is different – it has that nasty little warhead on top. There is no argument that anything falling out of the sky with a nuclear warhead and an operational trigger on it is a serious threat.

The point is – settle down.

But that’s just it – the North Koreans are not going to settle down. They’re going to keep doing their testing and their threatening, barking, and demanding, and probably more so over time.

Maybe it’s going to take a continuation of delicate, complicated, and sensitive understanding and diplomacy to address what it is the North Korean government really wants to achieve. It may eventually take a tough stance that includes sanctions and regional political pressure. Perhaps someday, sadly, it may take overwhelming force either to prevent the yip-yapping annoying Chihuahua from becoming an aggressive and violent pit bull, or worse, return him to the dog house after the fact.

DPRK: Barking to the World

The real problem? These missiles – and the testing – are expensive.

A July 2009 US Navy ballistic missile interceptor test off the coast of Kauai cost $40 million. Just for the sake of argument and simplicity, let’s suppose the target missile, system, etc. makes up half of that cost: $20 million. Some estimates propose that a North Korean Taepo Dong 2 launch test costs as much as $330 million.

Given that we’d all like to save money, and certainly the North Koreans need to – they can’t afford to continue spending that kind of money on tests that keep failing – a mutually acceptable and rewarding solution must be found. I know, testing is essential; practice makes perfect. But it is a lot of money. (Come on, they gotta make progress here.)

So, here’s my solution. It’s a cost saving, cost-sharing measure that I believe will work out well for everyone: Let’s work with the North Koreans.

Instead of the United States committing both our expensive interceptors and our own target missiles, and instead of North Korea only wondering if they can ever really reach Hawaii (let alone the western US coast), let’s do this: You guys go ahead and fire that $300 million missile in our direction, say, right at Hawaii, or directly over Japan’s sovereign landmass – again – (we want this to be realistic, right?) and instead of us using our own expensive target – give or take $20 million – we’ll save our target missile (recycle it instead and use the money for veteran’s benefits would be cool) and shoot yours down.

You get a successful test, we get a successful test – we all save lots of money – and everyone is happy.

Problem solved.

So fire away, Kim Jong Il. No need for that “Sea of Fire” you keep talking about. Let’s meet in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and watch a blazing fire in the sky together.

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