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Can't Get There From Here

Cartoon illustration of two cavemen, the one on the left with a hammer, and the one on the right with a club, arguing over a canyon, where a hand is coming up from the water, waving for help while the two men argue. Sketch by Earle Levenstein.

Imagine: Olden days; like, eons ago. Caveman-time.

Mountain over here, mountain over there, roaring torrent way, way down below: no way to get from here to there without breaking your neck. I mean, climb down, clinging to bushes, rocks, whatever; it'd take a lifetime. But every once in a while, some showoff nutjob would give it a try, scrambling, falling, rolling down; he'd swim the river, and once he got there, what? Bunch of scary types waving clubs and throwing rocks and yelling "Go back where you came from!" would come after him and mister nutjob would take off running with the mob of classic caveman types hot on his heels and if he was lucky, he'd make it back home—if you can call a cave home, which I guess you can—and after he caught his breath he'd tell his pals: "Last time I'll ever try that; those guys were ready to kill me."

Well, time does fly and after maybe a few thousand years—time really doesn't fly—different situation; sort of different, but, well, similar and a couple of folks in this town looking over that same roaring torrent at that town over there came up with a really good idea and scrambled their way over to the other side and wouldn't you know there was a small group of people over there who absolutely agreed and in fact had the same idea.

A bridge.

Would be pretty simple to get a bridge going and boy oh boy city here, city over there; could we ever get business growing; I mean it's a natural and they shook hands and had a drink—it was late afternoon by then—and lots of laughs and totally pleased and in complete agreement and off to their respective homes, ready to roll.

Well, as you can imagine, not everyone agreed and there was a lot of mumbling and grumbling on both sides about those people over there and who knows what they'll try once they can just stroll over here whenever they feel like it and see how we're doing business and even steal new product ideas and undercut us and besides they look weird and talk funny and so forth and—not surprisingly—as it turned out the mean talk and even pushing and shoving and threats and it just sort of got crazy and different signs started showing up and a lot of glaring and shouting back and forth across that raging torrent down below.

To the engineers, the whole thing seemed like a natural. I mean engineers are focused on design, structure, the quality of materials, standards, content, performance and they just tuned out the noise. Opinion? What's opinion got to do with it?

Well, they sure found out.

Now, more time—few hundred years this time—gone by; same two towns, mountain here, mountain there and now there are two beautiful towering structures looming over the raging torrent below, one on that mountainside and one on this mountainside, with nothing in between, and now, whenever kids from this side look across the raging torrent below and kids from the other side look across the same raging torrent below and see those two towering structures with nothing in between and ask their parents or friends or anybody around the same question: "What are those two towers with nothing in the middle for?" They get pretty much the same answer.

You see, there were engineers on this side and engineers from that side who had an idea and together decided to build a bridge but there were mobs of nutjobs on that side and mobs of nutjobs on this side and they just did what nutjobs do: they went nuts and so…

MORAL: Nutjobs don't build bridges.

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