Monthly Archive: July 2012

Jul 26

Amateur hour – anyone can do anything, it’s easy!

In Spain an amateur painter made a boo-boo on a masterpiece, in Canada, amateur hour cost our armed forces money and blood
It’s amateur hour, come on, let’s gather ‘round.
In Spain, a pensioner, with the best of intentions and unencumbered by talent, destroyed a work of art in an effort to restore it.
Sort of like how American forces saved Ben Tre during the Vietnam war. It was summed up in a controversial quote Peter Arnett recorded in a story. The Associated Press accound by Arnett on the bombing of the provincial capital, Bến Tre, on 7 February 1968 cited an unidentified U.S. military official:

“‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it’, a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong.”

That was how it was written in the New York Times piece, February 8, 1968.
The 80 year-old was unhappy with the worsening state of the painting by Elias Garcia Martinez, leaving his 19th-century masterpiece ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man) looking far worse as a result of the ‘restoration’.
Anyone can be an artist, it’s easy!
There has been a long tradition of amateurs taking over for professionals. Sometimes it works out.
Too often…not so much.
Andrew Keen, in his book, The Cult of the Amateur, describes how the Internet has given everyone access to the public mind. Sure, on paper this is good. But in reality, it’s only good if people read everything or at least a wide variety of stuff – which they don’t.

“What the Web 2.0 revolution is really delivering is superficial observations of the world around us rather than deep analysis, shrill opinion rather than considered judgment.”

He also says that history has shown us that in general, the crowd is often not that smart.
The Internet gives anyone the opportunity to say whatever they want to whoever reads it. There is no filter.
See, anyone can be a journalist or a columnist, it’s easy!
Canada’s Conservative government at the start of the First World War had a man by the name of Sam Hughes, place so much faith in the amateur soldier that he sent Canada’s only trained professional soldiers off to garrison duty in the Caribbean and sent raw recruits off to fight in France. Hughes kept up the amateur hour antics with his insistence at not only deciding what equipment was best for the soldiers he was sending off to France, but he also took to inventing equipment and then ordering it.
Hughes was one of the people behind Canada’s ill-fated purchase of the Ross Rifle – a great hunting rifle, not so good for fighting in the trenches. Why? Well, it was heavier than the Lee Enfield, less reliable and when you ran with the bayonet attached, the bayonet would fall off. Oh, and if you were involved in prolonged firing, the gun would overheat and jam.
Other than that, it was awesome.
Hughes also invented a shovel with a hole in it. To most people, that would make it a non-shovel, but Hughes had the Canadian Forces order 50 tons of the things. He also ordered webbing to allow soldiers to carry equipment in to the field and when the webbing got wet – which it did in the soaking trenches – it would fall apart.
See, anyone can order army gear – it’s easy!