In my books God's Debris and The Religion War I imagined a world where there is only "one Avatar at a time." This Avatar, an old man who is the smartest human in the world, has only one duty: When the people of the world get attached to destructive ideas, as they tend to do periodically, his job is to replace those ideas with notions more productive. I have been reminded of this fiction lately because we have been living in an environment of toxic ideas for the past several years.

The economy has been in a tailspin, with one shock after another. Fear, mistrust, and pessimism are running high. Those are the very ideas that are most harmful to a financial recovery. Even more worrisome has been the lack of belief in the competence of those in charge. From Katrina to Iraq to the economic downturn it seemed as if old-fashioned know-how has disappeared. Somehow we just forgot how to get things done.

Many Americans put their faith in Barack Obama to right the ship. And perhaps he will help. But at this point he is mostly promises and good intentions. We wish him well, but he is a politician and certainly not an avatar.

Then a funny thing happened. A 57-year old pilot in an Airbus A320 had a chance encounter with a flock of geese soon after takeoff. You know the rest of the story. He lost both engines and still managed to glide his airliner to a perfect splash landing in the Hudson, saving the lives of everyone onboard. And the world was astonished at his skills.

We keep learning more about this pilot, Chesley Sullenberger III. This was no lucky landing. Sullenberger, or Sulley as he is known by friends, was a straight-A student in school, with a genius level IQ. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy as the top aviator in his class of 1973. He majored in psychology at the academy and used that knowledge to open a safety-consulting firm on the side. He was also an experienced glider pilot, which comes in handy if your airliner loses its engines. In short, this pilot, considered an old man by many standards, had acquired over his lifetime every skill necessary for this specific situation, and he executed perfectly.

If you went anywhere this weekend, you probably found yourself in conversations about this pilot and this event. And the thing you probably talked about was his outrageous level of competence. You might have gotten chills when you heard about it. Maybe you teared up. At the very least it impressed the hell out of you. But something more fundamental happened too. This one pilot changed all of us. He reminded us what competence means and he proved in spectacular fashion that it still exists.

I think the economy will struggle for some time to come, but I'm calling this the bottom. The first sign of the turnaround is a turnaround in attitudes, especially in such things as consumer confidence. Thanks to the Avatar (or aviator if you prefer) that turnaround starts now.

Thanks, man.
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Feb 16, 2010
The actual bottom (so far) was march the 10th. Not bad.
Feb 16, 2010
And, uh, I just looked at the year he posted this, and saw it's not the one I thought.

Ouch for me.
Feb 16, 2010
I just looked at a graph of the dow jones and remembered reading this blog posting a while back: it's all been downhill since the day Scott posted this.

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Mar 3, 2009
Thought you might find this interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imDFSnklB0k - 3D video reconstruction of the landing.
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Feb 20, 2009
Sully speaks:

"As time went by, though, I was better able to put everything in perspective and realize how this event had touched people's lives, how ready they were for good news, how much they wanted to feel hopeful again. Partly it's because this occurred as the U.S. presidency was changing hands. We've had a worldwide economic downturn, and people were confused, fearful and just so ready for good news. They wanted to feel reassured, I think, that all the things we value, all our ideals, still exist—that they're still there, even if they're not always evident."

Feb 6, 2009
/* n my books God's Debris and The Religion War I imagined a world where there is only "one Avatar at a time." This Avatar, an old man who is the smartest human in the world, has only one duty: When the people of the world get attached to destructive ideas*/

No, there isn't ONE Avtaar at a time. There can be multiple. Look at that period 500 years before Christ. There was Buddha from India, Confuscious and Lao Tzu in China ( separated by app.50 years but both alive at a time), and Socrates and Plato in Greece. And god knows how many unknown enlightened souls not recorded by History. I read your God's debris.

Your idea of Avatar is MALE. Typical male brain at work thinking about its own future version !?? Why not a female Avatar, as imagined in Paganism and in unorganized religions ? The Yin energy, call it by what ever name.
Real Godliness is beyond male and female. Avatar is too anthropomorphic. Isn't it, Mr.Scott ?
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Jan 26, 2009
Nice to have a rare heartwarming and happy event in these days. Now what would make this a good parable of the US way would be for a bunch of passengers to sue (and win against) this pilot for causing a torn fingernail/mental anguish/voiding the warranty on their fake Hermes bag by making it come in contact with salt water!
Jan 20, 2009
I haven't heard anything about this pilot at all, other than your post. I know a plane crashed in the Hudson. I knew there were surviviors. This is what happens when you don't watch TV... only what my PVR records.

I know that the south end of the Petella bridge in Vancouver BC caught on fire because homeless people were lighting fires under it, and caught the 60 year old creasote soaked railway ties that it was built with on that end on fire, closing it for over a month, causing the 80,000 cars that use it every day to find a new route. Now that's news!
Jan 20, 2009
Phantom II, I take some considerable exception to your dumb imaginings of what higher powers might do. Your thinking is illogical at best and if I was not an atheist or at least a believer in Spinoza's God I would take more. Genius level IQ my hairy khyber pass.
Jan 19, 2009

check out covert hypnosis neurolinguistic programming brainwashing at youtube. it may be pseudoscience, but a lot of it is intuitive knowledge, like emphasizing words when you speak. obama clearly used advanced covert hypnosis techniques as mass persuasion in his speeches. its common knowledge in the hypnosis community. for them, the question is just about whether it is ethical. many people who know nothing about covert hypnosis use the techniques out of random implicit learning. obama is truly a master in this department though, no accident here. his is orchestrated perfection, not random luck. there is difference between his speeches and his interviews.

the truth about magic and psychics and ghost whisperers is that they play with your mind. that is the proof of the reality of powerful hypnosis, without hypnosis, occam's razor implies ESP is real. you can't hypnotize an untrusting individual, that is why obama did not win in a landslide. plus some people have small imaginations and are naturally more resistant.
Jan 19, 2009
I have to agree with other posters. I actually was extremely annoyed with this story occupying the news cycle for over 48 hours.

The novelty of a man (with an advanced specialized skill set) averting disaster is impressive. It's not compelling for me on level to be a game-changer for the entire country. It's not even compelling enough to cancel regular news to do a tribute, which is what happened for several evening programs.

Had the plane crashed it would not justify it. this was an accident. if you looked around the globe i'm sure you could count thousands who died by accident on that day. If saving the property of the airline(plane was pretty much ruined anyway) is a significant goal, you can claim some small victory i guess.

blowing this guy up is sensationalism on par with fear tactics used by the would-be fascists.

For a minute I questioned myself for thinking this is propaganda for masses to congratulate themselves, like i was being a stone-hearted hater. From the rest of posts here, it seems i am not alone.

Rallying around a miracle crash landing is not going to turn the USA around. Unless one of the passengers who was saved was either Jesus or the antichrist. pretty absurd?

It strikes me as weird that obama is inaugurated tomorrow and you think this plane crash will register as a blip on nations radar. if america is going to turn around, it will have to do with Obama, not sully. change has come, the thing is...nobody knows exactly what that means.
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Jan 19, 2009
Is it just me, or we all are being targeted by trained hypnotist techniques?
Not that I mind, smiled through Monday, will keep it up after this entry.
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Jan 19, 2009
Phantam II: Let me get this straight, first it was the hand of God who gently laid Flight 1545, then you state it was luck. So if I understand you, God = Luck? You really are genius! This has so many interesting applications...please expand this idea and grace us with more of your brilliance.

Jan 19, 2009
This has nothing to do with your blog post, but I just had to say that today's strip was a very shameless plug. A new low, really.
Jan 19, 2009
Wow, exaggerate much, Scott? Sully did a truly amazing thing, and his past scholastic accomplishments seem to be pushing his reputation to stratospheric levels, but Avatar? Changing the economy and people's attitudes? Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I don't see this event resonating the same way you do.

You're almost as bad as the announcers covering Tim Tebow's football games (google for more info). The over-the-top-the-world-is-a-better-place praise is almost sickening on some perverse level. Or hell, maybe you're right. Maybe a smart pilot and an ultra-Christian college quarterback ARE enough to change "everything". Is it possible to have 2 Avatars?
Jan 19, 2009
Was just reading a news story about this, saw this quote and thought of you:

<blockquote>President-elect Barack Obama said Monday he had spoken with the California pilot, who told him, "Me and my crew, we were just doing our job.'

"And it made me think, if everybody did their job — whatever that job was — as well as that pilot did his job, we'd be in pretty good shape," Obama said.</blockquote>

Sounds like Obama is on the same page. And after a new approach and a week of steady voice practice, I've got Dr. Cooper's methods back on track and can read that freaking rainbow passage (the full three paragraph version) 100% through with no breaks. So I am feeling good about the future.
Jan 19, 2009
I think you are the one to switch the RESET button. Thanks for writing a post honoring competence. I agree with you, I am seeing an upturn. Yesterday, I wanted to have lunch in a resturant near my place. I went to Olive Garden and was glad to see that there were about 10-15 people waiting outside for a chance to get a seat, I never got parking space. I had to get out and find another restaurant, but it made me feel great. Also, I saw lots of "open houses" display in my area (I understand that this may NOT be a good thing) but the fact is despite that, the house values are in the rise (compared to a couple of weeks ago). I also saw one "store closing" of course! But overall, I guess it is getting better.
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Jan 19, 2009
Sulley for President!
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Jan 19, 2009
And my personal, favorite bonus..."Sully" was one of the competent, striving-for-a-higher-level seagulls in Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
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Jan 19, 2009
Why would you conflate a chipper news story with a real turnaround in attitudes? This is nothing more than a media feeding frenzy, and will be forgotten. No one facing tough economic !$%*!$%*!$%*! will care in the slightest about this plane and it's lucky & skilled landing. In 2 years when houses are still losing value and the market is much lower than it is right now, I hope you come back to this post and apologize for your foolishness. God I hope no one makes any investment decisions based on your fuzzy, childish thinking.
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