Thursday, August 17, 2017

Comparisons are Odious

I heard someone say this once and I wasn't sure why someone would bother to say such a thing about something so simple.  I only today realized just how much trouble comparisons can be.

"We're bigger than Jesus" comes to mind as possibly the Gold Standard of odious comparisons, but for a more recent example, how about the governor of Maine talking about removal of confederate statues: 

"To me, it's just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11."

Obviously he is trying to say that being a victim of the September 11 tragedy is just as bad as being a racist. 

Well there may have been a time when we could more freely use comparisons to make our point, but now all anyone wants to do is accuse you of making a false-equivalence.  
The equivalence argument really misses the point of the comparison.  News Flash: any comparison made for illustrative purposes will not hold up to real scrutiny.  That's not how it works.   

I hate to use the phrase "political correctness" but I believe it is to blame for people's inability to understand the true intent behind the idea of making comparisons to prove a point.

So when someone (even someone odious) points out that opposing groups of protesters both have bats and are dressed in riot gear, maybe don't assume that person is trying to tell you those two groups are identical in every other way.  That's on you... and it's not a good look.

Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Fix Electric Cars

It's not the range - IT'S THE CHARGE TIME.

It wouldn't be such a big deal that an electric car can only go 80mi on a charge if it only took 3 minutes to recharge.

Conversely, I'm still not that impressed with an electric car that can go 200+ miles on a charge if it still takes 4 hours to charge it back up.  That's a long time.  Here's hoping you only run out of charge at night near your own garage.  4 hours is a lotta time to hang around the Circle K.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

How to Fix Healthcare

Recently I went to a health center to have both my ears flushed with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water.  One of my ears was pretty plugged.  I couldn't get it taken care of with the store-bought kit, but a nurse was able to get both sides working better than ever in about 15 minutes.

The bill was $251.  Yes, I have insurance that covered most of it (it cost me $60.)

This is a fairly high bill for something so quick and simple.  The solution is not better health insurance.  The solution is containing healthcare costs.  The best insurance plan in the world falls apart in the face of a $78,000 Band-Aid.

Friday, May 26, 2017

I Wasn't Kidding

I mentioned in an earlier post about my neighbor's compulsive obsession with his leaf blower, right?
Oh, right.  I did.

Yeah, well I meant it.

Yes.  That's him blowing leaves off the roof.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

To Thine Own Self Be True

Absent any psychological trauma that led you there, and assuming you have past the addiction stage, if every fiber of your being obsessively craves booze every single day, I think you'll never beat that.  You'll never make that urge go away completely. You may stop drinking because you decide that it isn't worth the trouble, but proof suggests you won't stop drinking because you no longer crave it.

So, too much alcohol will ruin a life, but if you crave it so badly, what kind of life do you have without it?  Seems like alcoholics ultimately have a choice between two kinds of unhappiness.

Or do they?  Is it better to spend your days as a functioning adult tortured in denial of your strongest craving, or as a homeless drunk who always satisfies the urge?  

I've seen people give it all up for the booze, and pitiful as it may be, I think you could make the case that all they did was follow their instinct.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Winter Finds Fourth Gear

People talk about pretty winter scenes, or watching snowfall, or they'll tell you how they like the changing of the seasons, but all that stuff is pretty fleeting.

   This soggy and drab palette is the day-to-day reality of it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Snowmobiles ("snow machines" in VT) are kind of dumb little contraptions.  They're designed to move by just dragging themselves around.  The dumbness of this becomes exceptionally apparent when you look at one parked on the grass in summer; the light in which it looks most like a completely useless waste of money.  Thing sittin' there on the ground like that with no wheels.  Even a roto-tiller's got wheels.

Even in their own element snow machines are still, for the most part, two-strokes that produce an impressive amount of smoke, noise, and smell.  They require a pretty large dosage of whiny RPM just to get them moving.  They don't turn at slow speeds.  Most don't have reverse.

But... holy crap are they fun.

I haven't done it since the late 80's, and what I remember (besides trying to break land speed records - those dumb snow machines DO fly) is that when you slow down and just take it easy, they are also a great way to explore the great winter outdoors, which is sometimes pretty spectacular.

Not my photo

There's a whole network of snow trails, complete with wooden bridges (sometimes even suspension bridges), and small clearings deep in the woods that most would never know existed if they hadn't found them on a snow machine.  It's a lot of fun to head 15 miles out in some direction, switch off the machine, enjoy the silence and grab yourself a lung full of some of that refreshing, dense cool winter air.  Out in the woods, the snow cover deadens the sound, and with no leaves on the trees, wind noise is often undetected.  It's a unique kind of quiet.  Added bonus: you've brought with you a very comfy bench seat on which you can relax.  And, your snow machine holds lots of snacks.  This could go well.
Not my photo. No one I know.

Also to be found out there is the camaraderie of other snowmobilers, sometimes stopped in a wide spot on the trail just to chat, or enjoying a planned bonfire / cookout / ride-in, or just waving as they pass.  It's a scene, man.  And a friendly one at that.

Not my photo. Only accessible by trail.

And I'm long since out of it, but I decided I wanted to get a little taste again, and I thought it might be something both me and The Wife could enjoy.  We rented a 2-up sled for a 2-hour guided tour last weekend, and you know... it was pretty good.

It was enough to get me to wonder if one of these would be worth staring at in the summer.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Passion. Close enough!

Amadeus was a great movie, but after all these years I feel like something else about it just clicked for me.

My take on it has always been that the story of Mozart's life was secondary to what the movie really wanted to say, which was that some people have talent, and some have even more talent.  It was about how much humble pie sucks (and when you think about that, the decision to use Mozart to deliver that message is kind of a no-brainer.)

Of course there are all sorts of talents and we're not all musicians,  but the "Well, I thought I was good until I saw that guy" theme is very relatable. And for even more mass appeal, the movie also evokes the frustration of having a passion for something you're not very good at.

What just clicked for me is how well this applies to the fun new sport of having an angry political opinion.  I see an awful lot of people getting all excited and passionate about their political views, but rarely does the logic really add up.  Somewhere along the line the skill runs out and the passion takes over, and everybody loves passion, so it's all okay.

Except your music just isn't good.