Thursday, March 17, 2011

I decided, so it must be

I've decided the best way to avoid reality is to just create my own facts.    "We can clear out the rest of our brains because we have the best fact."  This enlightening gem from XKCD has brought freedom to my chaotic mind.  I can be like Ethan Hunter's Aristotle and just decide on the facts.  
Men have more teeth than women.
Oh yeah?  You counted them?
No.  I decided.  I’m the decider
See, if I just decide on the fact and become the ultimate authority on everything, then my life becomes so much easier.  The way I see it, it's a form of denial that contributes to my sanity by freeing me from cognitive dissonance.  I no longer need to hold onto competing thoughts. I choose the best one and move on.

No longer do I need to sit and ponder on things. It's not necessary to go scrambling about the internet looking for information to prove or disprove a point.  I. AM. THE. DECIDER. I have made it so.  No longer will I lie awake while the events of the past hours, days, weeks, months, years swim and swirl within my cranium like a swarm of migrating sardines swept into a giant bait ball by sharks swishing through the sea.  Nope, those thoughts get completely switched off.

Thinking is overrated.  Fact-making is where the true power is.  I will now go forth and rule the world.
Seriously, though folks, the absence of critical thinking and questioning in some people is amazing to me.  I suppose it is possible to go through life with completely self-made facts, but that seems pretty boring to me.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why must everything be political? Updated

I find myself constantly perplexed by people who believe it is their duty to link any and every event to some cause that furthers their political agenda.

For example, did you know that Mrs. Obama is killing people in crosswalks?  It's true.  The article would like you to believe that because the First Lady is encouraging people to go outside and move, the recent rise in pedestrians involved in accidents is her fault.

Seriously folks.  I mean, seriously.  You don't think the problem could be the thousands and thousands of Americans who live in neighborhoods designed for  unimpeded automobile traffic? Or distracted drivers texting, fumbling for their cell phones, and trying to find that playlist on their MP3 player?  Or preoccupied pedestrians doing all that while walking around auditorily oblivious to the world because of the buds jammed in their ears?

And even if the number of accidents can be correlated to (much less caused by)  a more active populace, I doubt that Mrs. Obama's Let's Move is the primary cause.  Isn't it possible that the housing bubble and subsequent economic melt down are at least as likely at motivators to a more ambulatory public. Just think,  those with limited resources (i.e. the unemployed, the underemployed, and those folks with housing issues - you know all those people affected by the Great Recession) might be making the financially-based decision to take a walk outside rather than use the treadmill at the gym?  According to this, the biggest exercise trend in 2010 was a move to more budget-conscious exercise options.

Update: As I was driving home today I thought of two more reasons why pedestrians may have been involved in more accidents.

  1. The numbers they quoted were from the first part of 2010.  Remember what happened then? Oh yes, the original Snowpocalypse.  I only thought of it as I was dodging snowbanks while driving home along Selby Ave*.  If the sidewalks are full of snow, then more people are going to be on the street. If the snowbanks are as tall as the houses, it makes it hard to see people
  2. The Baby Boomers are now hitting retirement age.  In other words, they're getting old**.  Old people are not known for their high quality hearing, eyesight, or dexterity.  All conditions that can make them more likely to be on either side of a pedestrian automobile accident.

Oh and that increase in pedestrian accidents, it's 0.4%. There were seven (7) more accidents in the first six months of 2010 as compared to the same period in 2009 -1891 accidents in 2010 as compared to 1884.  While that is seven more people possibly suffering, as a fact that number means nothing, absolutely nothing, without some sort of context.  If 0.4% more people are walking, unfortunately, that's the sort of increase one would expect to see.  If 4.0% more people are walking, then overall the pedestrians are safer than they were in the past.

What bothers me is that people can take a fact , and then twist it to serve their political purposes.  And while the press release from GHSA does not list Let's Move as a root cause, their executive director, Barbara Harsha, is more than willing to point the finger.

But the “get moving” movement, led by Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to eliminate childhood obesity, could be to blame, Harsha told The Washington Examiner. 
“There’s an emphasis these days to getting fit, and I think people doing that are more exposed to risk [of getting hit by a vehicle],” said Harsha, who conceded to having no scientific evidence that the Let’s Move campaign has led to an increase in walkers and runners, or deaths.

It's unclear if it is the quote-er or the quote-ee who is trying to make the connection here, certainly that person wants that connection front and center.

Okay...I'll stop ranting about the poor pedestrians;  now I'm going to rant about the Easy-Bake Oven.  First off, I never had one.  I have no idea if I wanted one.  I have no emotional attachment to it one way or another (though, I'm sure many an interesting post could be made about said ovens, girls, play, and feminism).

Actually, I'm not going to rant about the Easy-Bake Oven.  Or gender role play.  I'm going to rant about the commentors in an article about the Easy-Bake Oven. Briefly, the planned phase-out of incandescent light bulbs starts with 100-watt light bulbs in 2012.  With no 100-watt incandescent light bulbs, the Easy-Bake oven has no heat source. Hasbro has plans to issue a new Easy-Bake Oven with an alternative heat source.

Again, seems like some plain-Jane information.  And yet the (admittedly few) commentors feel this is death-knell to (at least little girl) society.  Really?  A company announces they have made a change in their product and the world is going to end?  Folks, this is not New Coke.  It's a legitimate change based on current regulation based on concern for our future.  Presumably the little cakes from this oven won't be affected, but woe be to the environmentalists who have determined there must be change in our toys.  I bet these folks miss the lead in their paint, too.

I suppose there are people whose world view is dependent on destroying their enemy in any manner possible.  Can you imagine how constrictive that must be; to spend the whole day focusing on how a person or group has caused some event to occur? I'm not sure I'll understand why people spend so much time and energy focusing on the people who offend them.

I suppose ranting against the ranters isn't going to help anything.  But I feel better.  Good enough for me. And now that I've purged this from my mind, I don't need to think about it any more.  Whew.

*And while we're on the topic of Selby why remove the snow from the NE corner of Snelling and Selby, but not the other corners? I mean, that's where the cookies are.  People need to be able to park near the cookies.

**Yes, calling the Baby Boomers old is a wee bit dangerous, but they'll get over it.  Besides they're losing their memories, too.