Friday, October 11, 2013

Playing Chicken

This isn't my work.  It's a letter written to Jerry Pournelle and housed there.  I'd encourage you to read it.  The post also includes a Rudyard Kipling poem, which I'll copy here.

First, to get you to have a look at the letter:
The thing about playing Chicken is, both drivers get into the contest assuming that the other doesn’t actually want a head-on collision.

The game changes fundamentally if one driver believes he’s immortal and doesn’t really like his old clunker anyway. This by way of introducing a truly disturbing thought about the upcoming debt-limit deadline.
 And now the poem:

The Servant When He Reigneth

"For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear. For a servant when he reigneth, and a fool when he is filled with meat; for an odious woman when she is married, and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress." — PROV. XXX. 21-22-23.
Three things make earth unquiet
And four she cannot brook
The godly Agur counted them
And put them in a book --
Those Four Tremendous Curses
With which mankind is cursed;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Old Agur entered first.
An Handmaid that is Mistress
We need not call upon.
A Fool when he is full of Meat
Will fall asleep anon.
An Odious Woman Married
May bear a babe and mend;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Is Confusion to the end.

His feet are swift to tumult,
His hands are slow to toil,
His ears are deaf to reason,
His lips are loud in broil.
He knows no use for power
Except to show his might.
He gives no heed to judgment
Unless it prove him right.

Because he served a master
Before his Kingship came,
And hid in all disaster
Behind his master's name,
So, when his Folly opens
The unnecessary hells,
A Servant when He Reigneth
Throws the blame on some one else.

His vows are lightly spoken,
His faith is hard to bind,
His trust is easy broken,
He fears his fellow-kind.
The nearest mob will move him
To break the pledge he gave --
Oh, a Servant when he Reigneth
Is more than ever slave!

Rudyard Kipling

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