One of the most famous memes-of-movies, and one associated with the biggest gamble: a surprisingly youthful Clint Eastwood holding a pistol on an equally young-looking Andy Robinson.
Both men among the great character actors of Hollywood “B” movies, facing off at the end of a bloody shootout, in Dirty Harry, Part 2. Alas, the villain feels too lucky – the rogue cop has one shot left in his “…most powerful handgun in the world…” and bad guy ends up shot and tossed in the drink. He’s evaded a lot of police and gunfire… but his luck then ran out…
Explainer: does luck exist?
It’s a pretty important question for those who live an unconventional life, when the chips are down and all avenues of escape are shut off. The article linked above dives pretty damn deep, right into quantum mechanics, which is about as profound as you could ask for:
It has sometimes been suggested that luck exists only if a certain interpretation of quantum mechanics is true: if causality is not “deterministic”. If physical determinism is true then every event that occurs is entirely predictable (in principle), by someone who knows enough about the universe and its laws.
If indeterministic physics is true, then such predictability is not possible: no one, no matter how much they know, can predict every event that happens, even in principle.
(I won’t even burden the long-suffering reader with any mention of ‘free will’, Bill. Dammit I just did it.)
The lucky gambler, beating all the odds in a casino where – for once – the House does not come out ahead. In the case of Rain Man it’s because the Dustin Hoffman character, an autistic genius, is such a whiz at mathematics that he can figure the cards and beat the Blackjack dealer (Dustin and his pal Tom Cruise were soon taken aside, given their winnings and told not to come back – they were permanently banned from all the casinos). That looked like luck, but wasn’t.
The “art of war” is, once a battle commences, most often lost in the “fog of war”: strategies go wrong, weather, natural obstacles or other unpredictable factors interfere. Victory in combat is thus attributed to luck when there seems to be no other explanation. Emperor Napoleon was being urged to promote one of his staff officers to the rank of general; the officer doing the talking was extolling the man’s character and experience.
Napoleon: “I know he’s a good general, but is he lucky?”
What did that mean? The pint-sized French dictator, master of much of Europe, evidently did believe in that mysterious unknown factor. A religious person would call it a blessing (and presumably call a sinner “unlucky”). A scientist would attribute it to chance. But that evades the “Why factor”, doesn’t it? (That’s what science does, by the way.)
A philosopher might just put it down to DESTINY. (The hard-thinking Quora jokers have a great old time chewing it over.) In fact, belief in one’s own “destiny” can no more be proven than faith in pure luck.
That is certainly what an insignificant unemployed Austrian jailbird and failed politician named Adolf Hitler certainly did, when he was suddenly and totally unexpectedly made Chancellor of Germany. It was, as the saying goes, the “luck of the devil”. Now where does that one come from??
One Quora wag harks back to ancient times, when religion held a stronger grip over people’s minds:
‘…overly lucky people were believed to have made a pact with the devil so that they can have “the devil’s own luck” or in other words the devil traded them his luck for their soul. ’
Some said that Hitler had a pact with the evil forces, and they supported him… until they could do so no more…
In 1932 the Nazis were broke, powerless, ridiculed and mostly populated by thugs and misfits. People laughed at them. President Hindenburg declared more than once that he was not about to appoint “…an Austrian corporal…” as Chancellor of the Reich.
When it all came to pass and fell into his lap Adolf was the most amazed of all – and claimed it was his ‘destiny’ that enabled a sudden and totally unexpected rise to power (Hindenburg was deep in dementia by this time). Lucky guy on more than one occasion.
Is luck an accident? Can be. Many scientists resented the presentation of a Nobel Prize to Alexander Fleming, claiming his discovery of the properties of penicillin was just lucky – even though it was in a laboratory, under controlled conditions. And the scientist had to diligently follow his lucky observation with further experimentation, to prove it was truly an… “antibiotic”.
Our luck may have run out with the Coronavirus, however. Nobody seems to have figured how to stop it, or immunize us against it (unless you can somehow turn into a child, as they seem to be immune). Oh sorry – here’s a bright suggestion:
Belarus president believes vodka and saunas will cure coronavirus
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
Ah, come on. Give the guy a break. Are you sure drunkenness won’t cure you of your ills? Come around to Ya Udah Bistro, where you’ll get your own private table, even if you are in a party of seven, thanks the recent Government of Indonesia edict, and you can experiment with this theory (no schnapps though – just wondrous German / Indonesian beer and not-so-wondrous but drinkable red, white and rosé plonk I mean wine).
You protest “This is not ‘survival food’!” Oh no? How’s about Charles Joughin, the baker on the Titanic? Remember him? No? Not old enough? As the freezing waters were swishing about his feet he up-ended a full bottle of gin and downed it…
…AAAAaand an hour or so later he was fished out of the icy North Atlantic waters, good as new (drunk as a skunk though).
The Management and staff of Ya Udah Bistro, always on the case and keen to serve the finest steak, pigmeat, fish and salads, beer wine and ice cream (no, not all mixed together) do not wish our honored patrons to go down with the ship. Or to get “too drunk to die”. Or even to die. (Bad for business.)
Meanwhile, the earnest search for a cure to the pandemic goes on. (Sort of…)
Turkmenistan’s President Berdimuhamedov orders herb burning to halt coronavirus
Marc Bennetts, Moscow
Tuesday March 17 2020, 12.01am GMT, The Times
Ah come on, be serious. Even duarius. Snow joke out there. Please sit yourself down, have a nice meal and nice drink to wash it down with, and enjoy yourself with Guy Lumbago.
Thanks for reading! We’d love to see your comments.