I recently quoted the above statement by Israel Shamir to an acquaintance of mine, a middle- aged man. The reaction was unbelievable. I was expecting a mere chuckle, maybe something like, "Who cares." Instead the guy got angry and demanded to know who Israel Shamir was. He even said that only a covert terrorist could say something like that. I told him that Shamir was an internationally known writer, a Jewish- Christian, rather controversial but certainly not a terrorist. The man got confused and said that he felt deeply insulted. Why, I wondered. I am pretty sure he would not react at all if I quoted Shamir saying something caustic about, say, French as people or only about French men. In fact, a real Frenchman, if hearing something like that would just laugh or add that looking around in fear was a 24-hours -- a- day job anyway and would not leave time for the accompanying mutual satisfaction. Humorous attitude towards thyself is a sign of a mature character. Anger and vehemence on the other side"
I remember when I was a child they were showing in the former Soviet Union a great American movie Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines. All the boys from my apartment project watched that one. In that movie men were truly magnificent: skilful, good- looking, good- humored, full of valor and self- confidence. They were all engaged in a meaningful activity of making flying vehicles and testing them.
Meaningful activity is the word of the time. How many men in our country can boast a meaningful occupation; a day full of challenging and creative work? Not a lot. We are not paid for the meaningful results anymore. We are paid for satisfaction.
I watch Morning Joe frequently. There are usually 4-5 men (lead by the patented Moronic Joe) and one woman. The woman usually does not talk at all. Men, on the other hand, talk all the time. I took the liberty to line up the trends in their relentless talking and found out the predictable: they used the same limited vocabulary while commenting on the other people's talking. This can be called talking risen to the power of two ( or in this case- to the power of 5). They talk for living. Their salaries are hefty and they emanate visible self- confidence. But are they men?
Most of the stuff they say is nonsense. The stuff they discuss is also nonsense. There are absolutely no tangible results coming from their activity. Whoever could endure their written articles and their books (God forbid from buying those) will find out the perpetuity of cliche's over and over again. The obvious conclusion is that they are paid for a freak show. Their visible nervousness in maintaining control of their talk confirms that; everything but sense is allowed. They know the drill; they are not in charge of anything because there is nothing; if tomorrow the Morning Joe show is cancelled nobody will notice and the only consequence will be the subsequent firing of their assistants. We are dealing with five unfortunate men.
As a practicing engineer I watch closely the engineering market, peruse classifieds regularly, keep my resume updated and stick my nose into the hiring practices. Through 22 years of engineering experience in this country here's what I had discovered:
- the quality of engineering classifieds had eroded gradually and significantly;
- there is less and less specifics and more and more generalities.
- One type of classifieds had become extinct- the one that asks for the people who solve problems. There are apparently no problems left to solve.