Archive for October, 2009

This Vehicle Stops at All Railroad Crossings
10 October, 2009

I saw a propane delivery truck recently. On the back of the pill-shaped propane container, below the diamond-shaped hazard signs, was the advisement “This Vehicle Stops at All Railroad Crossings”. As we stopped at the railroad tracks, I thought about the impetus for the practice. Obviously the damage from when a train hits a propane tank is unacceptable so extra care must be taken to avoid it.

Wait a second.

When a train hits a propane tank? If the probability of a train collision is high enough for the propane folks to have a procedure to address it, what about the rest of us? A train hitting my car would cause an unacceptable amount of damage to me.

Why don’t we all stop and listen at railroad crossings?

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The Disloyal Opposition
4 October, 2009

I read in American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent that Paul Feig, who created Freaks and Geeks, said, “…I honestly see the battle between Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, as the exact same dynamic — there’s a group of people in this world that don’t like conflict and care about what other people are going through, and then there’s this other group of people in the world who hate that.”

His statement is not descriptive of the difference between the two parties, but rather is symptomatic of the similarity between them. Each party praises themselves for their righteous concern for the welfare of humanity and condemns the others for their wicked willingness to subjugate others for their own benefit. (And H.L. Mencken said, “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”) Certainly over the last twenty years both parties have shown no hesitation toward limiting freedoms, one more in the bedroom and the other more in the boardroom. Neither can claim to have effected a net increase in the rights of citizens.

Such a factional mindset is not only inaccurate but incapacitating. Political discourse devolves into sectarian squabbling a la Little Endian versus Big Endian. Instead both parties should embrace the concept of the loyal opposition. Alas, I suspect that the current behavior is a consequence first-past-the-post voting system and thus I fear it shall not change.