We have seen a legion of 'Gurus" arise in the past 50 odd years, all mouthing questionable platitudes. Some are quite stupid; some dangerous; some simply charlatans.
Many here know that even Knights can admire airplanes and pilots. The pilots of military planes are generally quite courageous chaps, especially those who do the 'testing'. They push the envelope and generally without mindless encouragement. They don't usually say much that gets reported.
That is not always the case with their 'bosses', especially when said 'Boss' is a dilettante and a dill, And even when he is a 'successful' dill.
|Sir Richard of the Hair and Teeth.|
Someone had to say it.
No, Richard Branson, our greatest achievements don’t come from our greatest painThe ancients would have found the idea absurd. And they proved it wrongExplaining the death of a pilot testing a Virgin Galactic rocket-ship, Sir Richard Branson intoned: ‘I truly believe that humanity’s greatest achievements come out of the greatest pain.’
The ancients would have been appalled, both at the crass ignorance of the sentiment and its implication.It is hard to see how papyrus, made out of marsh plants in Egypt since about 3,000 BC, resulted from ‘the greatest pain’. Yet, in combination with the presumably pain-free invention of the Greek alphabet, from which the Roman and our alphabet derive, this material was to drive literacy and a knowledge revolution across the Mediterranean.
The technology took another dramatic leap forward when the codex, or book, was invented by the Romans in the 1st century BC, replacing the clumsy and inefficient scroll.
One wonders how many lost their lives doing that.To turn to the work of the mind, not many died when Euclid’s axiomatic method laid the secure foundation for later mathematics or Archimedes did work ranked with that of Newton, Gauss and Euler.
Few fatalities were incurred when Aristotle invented biology and the rules of logic, Homer invented epic and Herodotus history.
When, without a single casualty, the Roman poet Lucretius made Epicurus’ atomist theory of life the subject of his great poem On the Nature of the Universe, it would revolutionise our understanding of the world 1,700 years later.
And all that from just the ancient world.Further, Branson’s assertion that sending millionaires on holidays into suborbital space will be one of ‘humanity’s greatest achievements’ is grotesque enough; but the implication that ‘the greatest pain’ — i.e. the death of members of his workforce — is a price well worth paying in the cause of his saint-like devotion to the betterment of mankind suggests he is close to losing all sense of proportion.
A Greek sentiment, surviving in Latin, might sum up his situation: quem Jupiter vult perdere, dementat prius — ‘whom Jupiter wishes to destroy, he first drives mad’.
Yes, some advances are painful. My sympathies go to the brave pilots and the grieving family. But let us be free of mindless cant.
A far better assessment, and words, were from Bill Whittle. He recognises the brilliance and the risks and praises as due.
I have a boat to catch.