Brace For Impact

These, I have decided, are the three scariest words in the English language.  The crash landing of Flight 1549 in the Hudson River happened a mere 5 minutes after takeoff, and I’m sure when everyone on board heard those words they were convinced they were going to die.  But due to the quick thinking, and ultimately, the skill of the pilot, everyone lived. 

Here’s the question.  Is the pilot, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, a hero?  In my view, absolutely.  But I once got into a debate, which turned into an argument, about the meaning of heroism.  (Here’s my definition of debate versus argument:  a debate is people freely expressing differing views, with respect for the person with the opposing view.  An argument is when extraneous kitchen-sink issues start being tossed in.  Name-calling is not far behind.  When debate turns into argument, I withdraw from the field.)

This debate-turned-argument started because I expressed the opinion that utility workers who come in to restore power to people after disasters like hurricanes and ice storms are heroic.  My opponent said, “They’re doing their jobs, and they get paid for it.” 

If that’s the definition, then I guess Captain Sullenberger isn’t a hero either.  I suspect if asked (and I haven’t heard any interviews with him), he would say something similar.  That he isn’t a hero and was just doing his job.  But with a little more caution and less confidence, a little less split-second decision-making, and a lot less physical skill at wielding an aircraft with no power, 155 people would have died. 

So maybe there needs to be a different word to describe it rather than heroism.

But I’ve been thinking that “Brace For Impact” should be the new slogan of the Obama administration, replacing “Yes We Can”.  We’re constantly being reminded that things will get worse before they get better.   

After Brace For Impact, the three other scariest words this week were “Peanut Butter Recall”.  I was pretty sure I was going to starve, since peanut butter and ice cream are my emergency foods of choice.  But thankfully, peanut butter in jars is so far safe.  Still…no cheese crackers with peanut butter from the vending machine?  Ack. 

On CBS News tonight, the former head of the FDA said that drug safety has been a priority of the agency forever, when clearly food safety is a higher priority.  Everybody eats. 

President Obama (it feels good to say that) has to pilot us back to safety.  I haven’t seen much mention of it, but to me, the most important thing he said was that we should not be asking how big or how small government is, but whether it’s working.  It’s time to make it work.

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10 responses to “Brace For Impact

  1. I think that the term hero has been diluted due to its overuse. I would argue that the pilot merely did his job. That is why they spend hours in flight simulators. The same can be said for policemen and firfighters, they do what they are trained to do. Heroism is accomplished when an ordinary person does an extraordinary deed. The military cook serving overseas is not a hero because he feeds someone. But the grunt who dives on a grenade to save his platoon is certainly a hero.

  2. oh no ee disagree, guy walks into a burning building is doing more than a job…….guy steps between a bullet and a target is not just doing an ordinary deed.

    Try it once and see how ordinary it is.

  3. The guy who has been trained and has the proper equipment is doing his job. If you or I run into a building because we know there is a baby in there are two different things to me. You’ll have to cite an example of a flatfoot that did that. Other than the cop shot while protecting Reagan. I have a hard time with that one because of the human being’s inherent notion of self preservation.

  4. By the way, my secondary AFSC in the Air Force was that of a Security Specialist. When we went on alert, I was out of the office and on the front line. I am still thankful that Reagan or the Politboro Chiefs never pushed the button during the Cold War.

  5. > the former head of the FDA said that drug safety has been a priority of the agency forever,

    And the FDA has been dropping the ball on drug safety pretty regularly these days…. so the FDA is pretty useless since both our food and drugs are killing us. Abolish the FDA and at least save some tax dollars.

    I may be able to schedule a rant on how the government cannot protect us. But then why post on the “obvious”? 😉

    As for “hero”, I’d say it is when someone goes beyond what is required of them and at risk of injury or life. I have no duty to help anyone; if I
    willingly take that risk, then that’s heroic.

    It is possible that a fireman or policeman, in the course of their job, takes a risk that is outside SOP. In that case, they are a hero. So there is no necessary inconsistency between Nick and PTFan1.

    But “hero” is so overused that it is losing value. When we call anyone who went to war a “hero”, even if they had a desk job in the rear, then calling the guy who throws himself on a grenade a hero as well is meaningless.

  6. Ahem, Anarchist, granted we are operating on different frequencies here 🙂 I believe government has a vital role in protecting the safety and welfare of its citizens to the extent that it can. Granted, I can’t expect to eat Big Macs and fries and drink Cokes every day and expect the government to protect me from the results. But I cannot, alone, protect myself from the harm caused by global food and drug contamination. That is what government is for, if it is for anything. It’s a matter of priorities.
    As for definition of “hero”, I can definitely understand Nick’s distinction about an ordinary person performing an extraordinary act. But I’m still not comfortable with just dismissing the pilot of Flight 1549 as someone who was just doing his job, something he was trained to do. I think there are more elements to this. You can say that people who willingly choose to be in law enforcement or be firefighters or be in the military or be airline pilots are already a bit more courageous than most of us (in my case, a lot more courageous). But there is also a love of risk involved, and a sort of arrogance (I’m good enough to save people! They can rely on me!)
    Nevertheless, in the crunch, I suspect that many people who chose these professions don’t actually have the skills to measure up. Sullenberger’s calm and skill were what saved the day, and perhaps it’s the results that make him a “hero”. He landed the plane in the river tail first…had he landed flat, or with the nose pointing down slightly, the plane would have cartwheeled and everyone would likely have died, from what I heard on TV. And the decision-making…he had to choose between certain death (trying to make it to an airport) and possible death. I don’t know…if it isn’t heroism, give me another word.
    Captain Sullenberger will be interviewed by Katie Couric on 60 minutes on Feb. 8th, I will definitely be tuned in for that one. Interestingly, this event makes me less leery of flying rather than more–not that I was particularly scared of it anyway. I save my phobias for more irrational stuff…more about that later!

  7. “We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes.”
    – Mark Twain’s Autobiography

    eee I have always thought that firemen and cops have the most difficult of jobs and, like teachers, are vastly underappreciated. Pilots are a different deal in my mind. (somehow)

    FN Sullenberger was uniquely qualified to do exactly what he did. Maybe if the captain of the Titanic had been more “in tune” with the moment disaster could have been avoided. I will abstain from the KKKK Katie interview and any other one she does. It does bring to mind a good blog image. NYT in the middle of a “supreme court” of MSM, with KKKK Katie on the left and NBC on the right. Maybe they are all seated around the Lincoln Memorial with angelic music waxing across the mall.

    Anarchist, lets do away with all government today. Let’s start with Tallahassee and close down every government office that receives GR. That would include education too I believe. No Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Legal………etc. We don’t need no effing law. Right?

  8. Pt…I’m glad to see you gave the NY Times its rightful place as Chief Justice of the MSM, lol.
    But c’mon…you’re blaming Katie for the Palin interview disaster? In the MSM, Katie is generally thought to be something of a lightweight. If you can’t hold your own with her, you are in need of serious help.
    For the “What do you read?” question, Sarah could have said, “You know, Katie, with a family that includes a five-month old special needs child and being the governor of a great state like Alaska, I find I don’t have as much time to read as I would like.” (Millions of Americans could have related to that.) Further, “Outside of reading bedtime stories to my children (hammer that home, Sarah), and reading important memos related to state government, I rely on briefings from my outstanding staff, and I catch your newscast when I can.” (What a coup that would have been.) Sarah just didn’t think fast enough on her feet and was trying to be something she isn’t.
    As for the question about what McCain has accomplished in the Senate…obviously, she had no idea. Is that Katie’s fault? Sarah couldn’t come up with a single thing? She could have said, “John stood firm against torture, just to give one example, but really, Katie, this isn’t about what John has done in the Senate, it’s about what John, with my help, can do for the country going forward.” Sarah was just overmatched by someone who is mostly fluff herself. Chris Matthews, she ain’t. I’m just undone by the idea that Palin looking like an idiot isn’t attributed to Palin herself. Must be someone else’s fault.

  9. OK Palin has herself to be accountable to, and she gave a very bad interview and its all part of the risk/reward gamble she took in accepting the ticket when she wasn’t prepared for prime time. No excuses!

    I had already given up on KC long before 2008. Loved her on Today, hated her as anchor. DOn’t know why she is still there.

    All I wanted was parity, she didn’t want it and used her position to fire away at SP but not at JB who was equally stpid on his train ride interview. That comment about FDR/TV/Depression was really as bad as SP’s brain lock.

    I won’t watch KC or Andrea Mitchel ever again. Don’t watch Rush either lol.

    Enjoy your NYT crossword with fakesister.

  10. I’m relieved to hear that you at least place the blame where it belongs. I missed the interview with Biden, but he does so love the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he? You’ll love this: http://www.borowitzreport.com/
    It’s the Saturday Xword that Fakesister and I do together. Starting with Monday which is the easiest, the puzzles get harder throughout the week, culminating in Saturday which is the hardest. People think it’s Sunday that is the hardest, but it isn’t. It’s just longer. In terms of difficulty, it’s more like a Thursday.

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