23 August 2010

This Wretched Scribe Afflicted with Acute Philosophical Atrophy


LaG, the Matriarch of the Clan, continues to experience severe medical problems. Thus, the regularly-irregular publication schedule of this wretched scribe's blog has been irregularized even more than usual. She is receiving good care, Pastor Josh and friends from Central Christian Church are much in evidence, and Bro. Butch Moore continues to faithfully discharge his Obligation by his resolute attention to the physical plant needs in the Home on the Ridge. Thanks for the many expressions of concern and prayer is always appropriate.

Brad Pitt and the Oil Spill

Actor extraordinaire Brad Pitt has weighed in on the Gulf Oil Spill. Formerly an “opponent of capital punishment,” enquiring minds will be fascinated to know that he is willing to make an exception for “those who are responsible.”

OK, it is a grave error to say that celebrities shouldn’t comment on public issues unrelated to their fields (in this case, acting and picking up girls - I am not qualified to judge him on the former, and the publications displayed at the checkout line in the grocery store suggest that he's a whiz on the latter.) Actors are amongst those given leave to wax ineloquently on damn near anything by the First Amendment. Listen, the problem here isn’t that he speaks, it’s that we listen. Are we so spectacularly dumb that we value the opinion of a handsome yet random actor over that of anybody with a reasonably complete science education? And when anybody spouts an opinion which is self-evidently absurd, why do we publicize it?

The Gulf Oil Spill was indeed an indecent and monstrous blight. The causation is anything but simple and linear. Nobody understands the extent of the damage. [Right wing and corporate apologists opine that everything is A-OK, because we can’t see much oil now. Guys, meet Brad; Brad, meet the guys; You have a lot in common.] I’ve yet to see anyone mention as one basic cause our obscene reliance on oil, to the extent that 80% of Congress and 100% of the past 8 presidents are/have been willing to give every other demi-sheikh a blow job and to the extent that we drill wells 5000 feet deep in the ocean.

How did the causes align to permit this well to blow? We need to know. Brad Pitt cannot tell us. Neither can I. Neither can nearly anyone in Government. The best oil geologists and engineers work in industry. BP is losing double-digit billions on this road kill salad and I’m betting that they’d sort of like to avoid a repeat. Other companies likely are laughing up their sleeves, but want to make sure the attention doesn’t turn on them.

One other subject totally absent from the press coverage was the long hours and brilliance of the engineers who fixed the well. They were working with robots on a problem caused by excessive pressure in an environment where the ambient pressure was in the order of 150 atm.

Brad, old love, if I want advice on picking up girls, I’ve give you a jingle.

Craigslist Ad I’d Like to See

"Classy guy seeks woman of any age who enjoys long walks on the beach, gentle rain showers, sipping wine, going to concerts, and flower gardening, and who enjoys doing all of the above alone. I’ll be at home, take your time."

Safety, Monies and Mama

Son Tim attended in interesting fire call yesterday. A compact car hit the end of a guardrail on Rt. 250, impaled itself 30 feet into the guardrail (down the middle of the car) and caught fire. The angel who looks after children and fools was on duty and the occupants walked to the ambulance.

I drove past the spot today. The guardrail had a single layer curved piece protecting the end, and that did nothing to retard the progress of the car significantly. The curved piece is fairly cheap as safety devices go, and you get what you pay for. I’ve seen the aftermath of crashes into the large square “target” endcaps which crumple the corrugated steel of the guardrail to absorb impact, and those appear to work fairly well, but they have to be darn expensive.

Safety costs money. In the accident yesterday, we can assign some responsibility for the extent of the damage to the guardrail designer and installer. But isn’t there a whole lot of “pilot error” in running a car off the road and hitting a guard rail that hard? What is our responsibility as a society? How much safety should we buy with tax dollars? How much should we mandate by regulations? Does it matter how stupid the hypothetical people are we’re protecting? How about the probability of harm and probable extent of harm? Here again, we’re denied a simple linear analysis and burst squarely into economics and morality.

Carry Me Back to Old Brasilia

Last week, I received by mail from a well-known third-party vendor will who I will not name (but I will say that a large South American river is involved) a package containing, among other things a rather decent knife from a rather decent manufacturer. I purchased this as a gift for my brother. On the packaging is a 1:1 photograph of the knife. I’ve seen the packaging on the same model direct from the manufacturer, so I know that it is clean and has no stickers of any sort on it. However, this third-party vendor (wisely) plastered a bright yellow sticker on the box with the legend “Sharp Object Inside.” They also sell irons with stickers “Remove clothing before ironing,” (which is not as funny as it once was because I talked to someone who actually ironed something on themselves and got burned).

Maybe these stickers are bad for evolution.

Pippa passes.


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