Thursday, September 30, 2004

Hardening and tempering

When you forge a knife, the last, and possibly most critical stages, are hardening and tempering. You take the forged, rough-ground blade and bring it up to critical temperature. It has to be even; if the section you need to make hard varies in temperature along it's length, it won't harden evenly. And then you quench it in oil. It smokes and bubbles, and puts incredible stress on the piece. If there's a flaw it may crack, or shatter. It's possible for a crack to form internally, that may not show itself until you test the finished piece, and it breaks.

Then you temper it. You take the hardened blade, and heat it again, to a lower temperature. It's a balancing act; if you get it too hot, you remove too much of the hardness. Not hot enough, it'll be brittle, and can snap when put under stress. Fine steel, badly heat-treated, may be junk. Moderately good steel with first-class treatment, can be marvelous.

I was thinking, after the previous post, about the two candidates, and about hardening and tempering in humans. Someone can seem a marvelous person, and fall apart or show real flaws after the stresses involved; others, who may not seem like much of anything, can have a lot of impurities burned out, and become far more than they'd have known without the fire.

Yeah, Kerry was actually under fire in Viet Nam a few times. And Bush flew fighters, which can also kill you and others. In later years, other things happened. Kerry went into politics right away, Bush not for quite a while from what I know. Kerry seems to have used the time in the Navy mostly as a way to pad a resume' for later political use, and whacked on the people he served with. I think that, under different circumstances, Bush might well have made a career of the Air Force. Bush's real forging came later, I think. Drinking and whatever else, and then his wife said, "Straighten up, or else", and meant it. And he did.

I think Bush came out of the fires quite possibly better metal than went in. I don't think Kerry changed; he just stayed the same, like a mild steel that can't be hardened. And I know which I trust more right now.

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