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Why can't our soldiers just get along?

By Tom Toles

Words I don't live by

When I was in Austin recently an adult friend pulled out a Donald Trump doll that talked. How such a thing came to exist staggers, but one of the things it said was, "Never give up! Ever!" I don't care for dolls, Donald Trump OR that advice. It's standard issue pep-talk wisdom that I absolutely don't understand. NEVER give up? There are lots of things I give up on. In high school I drew PAGES of prototypes of perpetual motion machines. I don't spend a lot of time on that anymore. Sometimes giving up is best. I'd be just as happy if Donald Trump gave up.

In the same family of advice is "Always do your best." That one I really think is stupid. Mediocre scrambled eggs are just fine for me. Did I miss ANYTHING when I swept the walk? Maybe! BEST takes a whole lot of time. If I did EVERYTHING my best, I'd do about a tenth of the things I do. I prefer, "Do many things and do them as well as seems appropriate." Not too catchy, as maxims go. NOT my best effort!

Another similarly annoying maxim I plan to ignore is "Always finish whatever yo --Tom Toles


By Tom Toles  | May 25, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Federal government  
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Tom -- I'm a life long professional inventor. And I've always had to fight the urge, no -- compulsion to keep making it good, better best.
But Many years ago I realized that unless you crystallize it --- and put it on the market -- you WILL lose.

So an expression that I heard, many, many decades ago became one of my mantras.

"Good enough is often best."

Posted by: inventor1 | May 27, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

As we see the MMS (a government oversite Agency) was blinded by the "perks" having such oversight gave them. Now the Pols tell us we need more of the same. That just means more perks for more morons. Public servants serve themselves. More government means more incompetence. The MMS folks should go to jail. BP officials who cut corners and avoided costs should be investigated and prosecuted. We already have a justice dept. Why do we need more? To err is human. To really screw things up, get the government involved.

Posted by: NeilT1 | May 27, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

In fact, the people who are getting kicked out are those who do not believe that homosexuality should engender government protections. For example, a scientist was just dis-invited from being on a committee to help brainstorm solutions to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill because he wrote an essay over 10 years ago that indicated his disagreement with the homosexualists. The same also happened to a man who was on a major local transit board because one of the members did not like his stand on homosexuality, even though the person kicked off the board was a donor to the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Posted by: ercv | May 26, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Now that we have four genders to deal with male straight, male homo, female straight and female homo; it will be necessary to have separate facilities for all four genders. No one likes being stared at in the shower.
Life sure can get complicated.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | May 26, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

"Good enough for government work."

--Words to live by.

Posted by: wgmadden | May 25, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

that all events are somehow purposeful within some cosmic scheme-of-things -- that strikes me as downright, out-and-out "due-due."

Hence one of many "favorite" slogans...

Posted by: bertzel | May 25, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

If we're going to talk stupidity, how about this one: "Everything happens for a reason." How could some dead kid have died for any reason, other than for the cause of his death. Let's say some kid was hit by a car; well then one could say that the "reason" he died was due to the severe injuries caused by the car. Then I would agree, that "everything" does happen "for a reason." However, the belief that all events are somehow purposeful within some cosmic scheme-of-things -- that strikes me as downright, out-and-out "due-due."

Posted by: dudeupnorth | May 25, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I once worked at a major corporation whose legal department had emblazoned along its hallway wall, in a 768 point font, the motto, "We will provide the best possible legal advice in the shortest possible time at the lowest possible cost."

Or something to that effect. I know I tried to ignore it every time I walked by.

Posted by: Itzajob | May 25, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Here's my advice, "Be happy". At least you can try....

Posted by: saami | May 25, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The one that always makes me cringe is "There's no such thing as a stupid question." The person who thought that up probably assumed that people tend to take responsibility for finding out what they need to know through a variety of avenues and keeping track of their own deatilas (and not simply expecting others to hold their hands every step of the way), and presumed that there weren't any people for whom asking questions (often very stupid ones!) was just a way of getting attention.

While it's certainly better to ask than assume when you really need to know something, some completely abuse other people with totally ridiculous, off-the-wall questions, or with details that they, themselves, should be responsible for remembering.

Posted by: CynicalC | May 25, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

As someone who has lived some sixty-plus years without ever trying to do my best, (It was never my parents’ message. In fact, their only message was the people who were doing their best were actually trying to out-do everyone else – including me – and they were pretty much show-offs, and who’d want to be like them anyway?) I’d have to concur with the cartoon guy with yet another old saying, and that would be: “Best only counts in horse shoes.” And who even plays horse shoes anymore? Well, maybe at those deadly family reunions, and that’s pretty much to avoid conversations with third cousins who never recall your first name correctly, and have such off-putting looks and affects that you want to pursue a genetic transplant (If they even have those things yet). Horse shoes is one of those kind of hazardous games, too, that someone tried to make safer with plastic horse shoes. But no one uses those. No one. Well, maybe some wimps would use the plastic ones. But you go to a park and all you hear is that iron-on-iron sound of some guy getting a strike (They do call them “strikes,” don’t they?). Which brings up baseball and the cartoon guy’s piece about our “national sport.” That was good. And the ball that would never leave the ball park? The cartoon guy needs to learn that a ball like that has already been invented - -a couple of times, in fact. You’ve got your wiffle balls, and you’ve got your nerf balls. Two really good examples, I’d have to say. They’d never leave the park. Never.

Posted by: dudeupnorth | May 25, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Another one that always bothers me is when a car company says "Safety is job 1". If that were really true, they would stop making cars and focus on making airbags for OTHER companies' cars. No, obviously, making cars is job 1; safety may be job 2. Be honest with your slogans!

Posted by: woodsman1 | May 25, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Hate to say it but it's in stages of "how true" for a number especially if they are not secure enough in their own sexuality.

Posted by: maldelus | May 25, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Sure, let's give up on medical research. We will never cure cancer anyway. Right? There really is no other fuel that will work in homes and cars so forget it. Those are positions from people that went to the Montessori school or schools without walls. Please say Mr. Toles that you are not taking over the position of Patron Saint of Mediocrity from Salieri. Although I think perfectionists are good at nothing themselves, we should all try to do our best. It is the American way. Cue the National Anthem.

Posted by: bobbo2 | May 25, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

One can suck up the Universe with need.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | May 25, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Guess it makes sense for you to give up those Capitalist maxims so how does this one work for you? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"

Posted by: carbonhog | May 25, 2010 6:24 AM | Report abuse

How about "do what you think is best and avoid what you know is wrong."

Posted by: GaryEMasters | May 24, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

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