Anachostic

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Tag Archives: overpopulation

It Wasn’t Me This Time

Today, I got an answer to something that I’ve always wondered.  What would I do if an accident happened right in front of me?  Well, it was actually right behind me.  I drive that road every day after work and I know how it can get. 

The road is a two-lane off-ramp connecting two interstates.  At that time of day, the right-most lane gets backed up.  There have been times that I couldn’t merge in and I couldn’t very well stop and hold up traffic in the left lane, so I was forced to take an alternate route home.  Because the right lane backs up and the left doesn’t, I think that people driving in the right lane (and this has happened to me) misread the speed of their lane, because they are keeping pace with people in the faster left lane.  Then all of a sudden, your lane grinds to a halt.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see it happen a couple of cars ahead, if you’re not lucky, the car in front of you will suddenly slow down.  If you’re really unlucky, the car in front of you will swerve onto the shoulder and the car in front of them will be stopped.  All of that happened today.

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I actually was not lucky, I was surprised by the car in front of me.  The cars behind me were less lucky.  I escaped unscathed.  But not being involved in the accident, what was I to do?  This is the question I had been wondering about.

See, I hate the world.  I really hate people.  I blog about it; it’s not a secret.  But I hate that the world is that way.  And so what did I do in this moment of truth?  I pulled over and jogged back to see if there was anything I could do to help.

Everyone was as fine as you could hope for.  One guy who had his airbags go off seemed a little stunned and I had to roll his windows down to get some fresh air in there (Airbags really stink.  That’s the second time I’ve smelled it.)  Another Samaritan was checking on drivers too and said he would call 911, but he disappeared quickly after.

I hung around until the police and paramedics arrived and gave everyone my contact info in case their insurance company wanted it, but I’m not sure I’ll be of much help.  The people behind would have been better witnesses, but everyone’s got somewhere to go…

So, why didn’t I take off like everyone else?  It’s not my problem – I was lucky.  I suspect that I don’t care about “people” because I can’t.  I can’t care about them because I can’t do anything about it.  People trapped in a cave in Argentina?  What the fuck can I do about that?  People right behind me getting in an accident?  I can try to help there.  It’s a proximity thing.  I might have said before that help begins locally and this just reinforces it.

I Guess It Was My Turn.

The last couple days have been pretty hard for me.  Not difficult, just hard.  I’ve been having a hard time getting along with the human race, specifically on the roadways.  My outlook changed last Saturday when I was driving home on the interstate, cruising along with the other cars and I glance in my rear view mirror and see someone right on my ass.  I mean, right there.

“Surely they realize how close they are and how unsafe that is.  They’ll slow down now.” is the thought I had in my mind when the impact occurred.  Everything in the car went flying. drinks spilled, shifter thrown into neutral, GF screaming.  Even though we were surrounded by cars, it’s surprising how quickly openings appear when cars collide.  I was able to quickly get over to the right hand median.  But my assailant didn’t.  Nor did he have any intention of doing anything of the sort.

Still in shock, I hadn’t realized yet that the car was in neutral, so trying to take chase of the other car was delayed by a few precious seconds while I wondered why the car wouldn’t move.  Did I take so much damage that my tires were pinned?  Nope.  I got back in drive and took off in pursuit.

Unfortunately, traffic worked hard against me, blocking me in lane after lane.  And I was disadvantaged because I’m clearly not as reckless as the one who hit me.  My hopes of catching the assaulter fell quickly.  One of the cars I caught up to and tried to get around started gesturing at me.  They kept pointing to the right hand side of the road even though we were in the left lane.  Eventually, we both pulled off to the left side.

I immediately went and looked at my damaged bumper.  Honestly, it wasn’t bad.  The other people got out of their car and explained that the car I wanted just got off on the exit we just passed together.  Well, that’s lost.  But, they said they got the plate number, so hooray!  We traded info in case I needed a witness (tip: highway patrol and insurance really want a witness).

So, to speed the story up a bit, the police were unable to find a matching car with that plate number.  I have to pay my insurance deductible because no one can find the hit-and-run bastard.  But, I’m grateful things didn’t turn out much worse.  Getting hit at 75mph, I could have swerved, flipped, gotten t-boned, hit a pole, and maybe even taken out other cars (and who would then be responsible for that?!).  Things aren’t that bad.

But they are.  I had been slowly getting more and more frustrated by the behavior of other drivers on the highway.  Insanely unsafe driving with no regard for others.  I’ve recently had to keep my composure when delayed by accidents.  It takes a lot for me to not get to the accident site and yell out the window, “You motherfuckers!  Do you see what you’ve done?!”

When I see a car coming up behind me now, my first thought is, “Are you going to hit me, too?  Why don’t you?”  Every time I see someone weave through traffic, I think, “Are you going to run away?  Do you even know what risk you’re taking?  Do you even fucking care?”  I know the answer.  They don’t.  I used to not let that worry me, because these self-centered assholes never affected me.  But now they have, and I want to wage war.

Right now, I’m debating on buying a dash cam.  I feel I need to document this insanity.  I’m also giving thought to creating a website exposing these ridiculous drivers.  I will probably need to get some council to determine if such a thing is legal, and I really hope it is.  To have a searchable database of license plates with user-submitted video proof of the owner’s dangerous driving habits, that may make a difference.

And if it doesn’t, or if such a thing can’t be done, well, I guess I just have to suck it up and pay the deductible.  The assholes win again. 

Encroachment

‘Tis the season to be homeless, or so it seems.  I’ll start by saying I’m ambivalent about homeless people.  I really don’t think there is a solution to it, much less a solution to those that actually desire to be homeless and live off of charity.  My reaction to homelessness would be, in D&D terms, chaotic neutral.  but anyway, the stories…

Case 1: The GF and I are out driving and stop at an intersection.  There is a woman wearing the standard-issue safety vest for panhandlers.  Joking around, I commented, “nice butt,”  the GF commented, “nice phone in the back pocket.”  But joking aside, the GF is a lot more generous and tolerant of panhandlers than I.  She will regularly offer a drink or a snack if she has one available.  I infrequently do that.

Anyway, to get to the point, the woman turned around and it was a person that my GF knew from her job.  Knew pretty well, in fact.  That changed a lot and not in the way it might sound.  This woman would show up nearly every day totally drunk and just be belligerent all day.  This is not someone you want to give money to, because it goes to one thing.

Case 2: I’m pulling in to a restaurant for lunch and a vagrant is in the lot.  I leave the car running and pretend to be busy with something inside.  Undeterred, he comes over and is happily gesturing at my car.  Yeah it’s a nice car.  I give him a thumbs up through the window hoping he’ll continue on.  Nope.  He continues gesturing and finally I roll down my window.

The guy is deaf, for real or not.  Signing some stuff, pointing and making noises.  I have no idea what he wants.  He eventually hands me a piece of paper with his pitch pre-written on it.  He’s deaf; he can’t hear or understand what I say; he wants money for McDonalds.  Sigh.  I give him $5 and tell him to enjoy his meal.  He seems extremely grateful.

Case 3: I’m leaving a restaurant and a guy is in the lot with a bike.  “What kind of car is that?”  “It’s a Miata.”  “A what?”  “A Miata.”  “Hold on I can’t hear you.”  He comes closer as I realize what I’ve gotten myself into.  “A what?”  “A Mee Ahh TA”.  “Oh!  That’s a beautiful car.  Must be very expensive.  Never seen one like that before.”

Trapped, I am.  “I just want to fuckin’ say something.  I want to fuckin’ thank you for acknowledging my existence.  All these other people just fuckin’ fly away.  They don’t even say anything.”  And it goes on like that.  It’s cold and drizzling outside and I’m not a fan of that situation either.  So to end the conversation, I say “you know, you really need to find shelter.”  And at that moment, I thought, “God damn it.  Why did I have to say that.”  I get more story, about his mom, who loves him.  I see him trying to figure out how to use whatever I’ve said to work in some kind of pitch, a pitch that will be full of profanity, certainly.   He points at an overpass and says how he has slept there for 5 days. (That’s his shelter, he says). 

I figure, ok, we’re going to do this, huh?  So I asked, “why do you do that?”  He was caught off guard. I said, “I know there’s shelter here in town.  Why don’t you go there?”  Well, he had to think quickly for that. “eeehhhhh, those shelters…. they’re not… nice.  They have bed bugs.  It’s not good.”  And I was getting ready to tell him it had to be better than a bridge when he commented, “he’s eyeing me up.”  I asked, huh? and he said “the cop over there.”  Then I hear behind my car, “Excuse me, would you mind coming over here and talking with me?”

The vagrant walks over and I shut my car.  I’m going to take my opportunity to get out of this.  I look in my mirror and no I’m not.  I’m blocked in by the police.  And… another car shows up.  I catch little bits of their conversation: “You from around here?”  “You have any weapons on you?”  “You said some things that worry me.  Are you going to get violent with me?” Oh boy.

So, the officers don’t find any reason to detain him and let him go.  So I’m going to just finish this up and get home.  I do the nice, dumb thing.  As he walks by the car to get his bike, I offer him a can of Coke.  I want that to be the end and I’ll go.  Nope.

More conversation ensues.  I finally tell him that he needs to clean up his presentation, stop swearing so much, and better things will happen to him.  I have to put the car in gear and start moving for him to get the hint.  I think he stroked the hood of my car as I backed away.

So there’s three recent interactions with the homeless and vagrant within a couple of weeks.  Where it goes from here, I can’t be sure.

A Small Light Bulb Moment

Add to the list of soon-to-be-obsolete things: automotive high-beams.

A little over-dramatic, sure, but give it some consideration.  When is the last time you got to use your high beams?  Ok, that’s a loaded question.  Some people would say “all the time!” and some would say “never!”  It depends on how populated your area is.

I was driving home one evening and I was able to use my car’s high beams for the entirety of one span of roadway.  I never saw another car.  And that made me think back to my previous living location where you’d never get a chance to use your high beams because there were cars on every road at every hour of day.

As we become more overcrowded in this world, our high beam usage is going to become diminished, possibly to the point of being irrelevant.  Then again, we’ll probably have self-driving cars by then and we’ll all be shuttled around in cars having nothing more than marker lights on them.

YOLO

Just a little behind the times on this one.  I’ve heard a lot of this “YOLO” thing going on, and after some consideration, I’ve chosen to redefine it.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Theosophy, the main point of it is that, as souls, we are constantly evolving through the process of reincarnation.  With each life, we are put here to learn lessons and pay back Karmic debt built up over previous lives.  As you go through these lives, you build inherent skills, which are displayed as natural talent; wisdom, which is shown as common sense; and other intangible skills like spirituality and tolerance.  “You can’t take it with you” is only for material goods.  Your soul’s qualities persist.

So, accepting the teachings of Theosophy,  you can imagine there have been souls who have been through many different lifetimes.  Some have learned their lessons well and gained all the skill, wisdom, and wholesomeness from each lifetime.  Others haven’t learned and still continue to be cruel, greedy, and intolerant.  The world is full of both types of people, you can’t doubt this.

But the world is also full of many more people.  More people on this Earth than ever before.  More bodies, more souls.  These bodies must be filled with young souls, those who have not had the experience of many lifetimes to learn how to be good.  Many that have to pay back Karmic debt through lack and suffering.  Some that are learning from their current situation, and a lot that are not.  It takes a long time to learn some lessons.

You can see this in the attitude of the younger generations.  You can see it every day in so many people.  It’s a sense of desperation.  Even driving in the city, you can sense the desperation in how people drive.  They must pull out in front of you, because they feel if they don’t, they will never get in.  Never.  That’s how the world is behaving.  Now or never.

These people don’t understand that this life is nothing.  There will be so many more lives to enjoy if you live this life right.  If you don’t, you’ll make up for it next time.  And hopefully, you’ll learn it that time.

So, for all the desperate people and their rally cry: “You Only Live Once!” I respond knowingly, “No, You’ve Only Lived Once.”

Why, Baby, Why?

The other day, while working around the house, I heard children screaming in the neighborhood.  I idly thought to myself, “Why do people have children?”  Then I thought a little more and got more serious about it.  Why do people have children?  They say that the people who decide not to have and raise children in their lifetime are being selfish, but when I got thinking about it, it seems the opposite is true.  With a little brainstorming, these are some reasons I came up with:

  • To continue the human race
  • For the experience of raising a child
  • Because your parents want grandchildren
  • Because you need help working your farm/business
  • You need a male child to continue your family name
  • You grew up in a big household and want to have the same experience
  • Babies are beautiful
  • It’s the thing to do/all your friends have babies
  • You’re getting old and having babies when you’re older is risky
  • Your spouse wants a baby
  • You don’t have a spouse and don’t want to be alone
  • Your spouse is going to war and you want something to remember him by
  • It just kinda happened

Of this entire list, the only reason that is not selfish is the first one, and I haven’t heard anyone use that one before.  The last reason is irresponsible, but that’s a different post.

The typical rationalization of parents is “You’ll never understand the feeling of unconditional love,” which is false if you’ve ever owned a pet.  Another common statement is regarding the wonder of watching a child grow and learn.  Yeah, anyone can get that anywhere from any child.  “But it’s different when it’s your own.”  Hear that?  “…your own.”  When coming from a parent, it’s a statement of “Look what I made.”

Obviously, parenting is filled with pride – selfish, dangerous pride.  When you have a child, you give up your own identity and start projecting through your children.  To be fair, this isn’t always the case, but the parents who don’t do this are classified as poor parents or uninvolved parents.  Then, it is recommended you live through your child.

But, isn’t that the proof that child-raising isn’t selfish?  Despite the initial reason for having the child, you have to be selfless and sacrifice everything to raise the child?  Quite the opposite, because by doing just that, you are burdening the child with creating your happiness as well as their own happiness, your success with their success.  Their problems are amplified because they become yours, too.  This is why so many parents (mothers, usually) have extreme separation anxiety at college-time, because suddenly they’re alone with no life.

If people would ask “why?” before having kids, and really look at the reasons and be honest with themselves, maybe we could manage this population crisis.  After all, the first listed reason is well taken care of.

Ayn I Rand. I Rand So Far Away.

For a while, I’ve been watching “patriots” circle-jerk over Ayn Rand and I never understood why.  So, I took a short amount of time and read a short book of hers called Anthem, which I assumed would be typical of the Rand philosophy.  I can say I have no further desire to read a Rand book.  For as much as conservatives scream about the evils of socialism and communism, the world that Rand wants is just as evil, just in the other direction.

To me, Anthem is a tribute to selfishness and hubris.  The final chapters are filled with an excess of “I”, “me”, and "my”, which is meant to contrast with the whole rest of the book, where the primary character refers to himself in the plural, “we”.   This book’s story is set in an absurd world, because it’s the only world that you could even begin to justify the main character’s actions and beliefs.  Some future world where humanity has regressed to the dark ages and is controlled by a collection of councils, who have mapped out everything so there is no personal choice.  And somehow, people today think we are moving in that direction?

As I neared the end of the book, knowing what was going to happen, I thought I would write a blog post as an epilogue to the story, describing what would happen when this extreme individualistic philosophy grew.  Turns out I didn’t need to.  The book already had it covered.  The primary character took over an old house, claimed all its possessions as his, planned to convert it into a fortress, planned to build an army and wage war on the existing community, make his house the capital of a new world and be the absolute leader.  This is a good thing? 

At the turning point in the story, where the character begins to learn at a hyper-accelerated pace and surpasses the entirety of humanity in knowledge, it is not dwelled upon that he stole items from various councils to accomplish his learning.  While it sounds understandable to break the laws of an absurdly oppressive future world, the general message, reinforced in the closing of the story, comes across as “Do whatever it takes for your own benefit.”  This is something to strive towards?

The problem with this book and the current flavor of individualism is the inherent exclusiveness.  Coming along with that is the despise and near hatred for fellow humans.  In this mindset, everyone is out to get something from you and you’re not going to share anything with anyone you don’t deem worthy.  In this mindset, you have no need for anyone else – unless you need something from them, of course.  The viewpoint that a person has no value whatsoever and contributes nothing to society is the default instead of the exception.  Trusting no one but yourself is the overriding belief.

So what becomes of a society of individuals?  How does anything move forward?  How can there be any progress without shared resources?  Consider a bunch of individuals living by a stream, each using the water for daily life.  A new person comes along and dams the river upstream so he can do whatever he wants to with the large pool.  That’s his right; he’s doing whatever his individual desires want.  The others downstream suffer.  Without any governing body, I suppose the dam owner would simply be run out or killed and the dam destroyed.  Sounds like an incredible world to live in, where whatever you make is yours and only yours.

The concept of radical individualism like portrayed in Anthem and in the equally absurd previous example are possible when there is no overpopulation crisis.  If someone cramps your individual freedoms, simply move farther away.  This, accurately, is how America got started and is how and why it grew so powerful.  but with as crowded as America is now, we have no choice but to be socialistic.  We do not have the space nor the independence (as in lack of dependence on others) to make this happen.  Maybe being a farmer in the rural Midwest would be suitable for such people, but not everyone can attain this.

There’s always such a big cry from the people who feel they’re being repressed.  “Why can’t I?”  “The government won’t let me (insert anything here).”  The answer is that what you want is not good for society.  Not everyone can go and start building a nuclear power plant, because not everyone will get it right, then we all have to pay for the mistakes.  The answer this book purports is that it doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is that it is good for me.  Although in the closing chapters the book came very, very close to using this phase, it didn’t.  The phrase, usually reserved for unmentionable acts, is “The end justifies the means.”  And to have a society built on that belief would be a terrible one to live in.

Meeting Goals

This morning on the drive in to work, I saw a billboard for a hospital touting their ER wait time, which was 13 minutes.  It got me thinking cynically about how that number is derived and enforced.  And I know if I’m thinking about it from a cynical point of view, someone else has thought about it from a serious point of view, and someone else yet has actually done it.

Side-stepping my soapbox about too many people in the world today, I’m going to look at the managerial method to problem-solving: meet the goals.  “Meet the goals” is not the same as “fix the problem”.  Just yesterday, I came across a poorly-written specification document as part of an issue I was assigned to fix.  Following the “Success Criteria” of the document would allow you to skip a major section of the specification, which is what was done.  So, now I have to go above and beyond the success criteria to meet the full requirements of the document.

Anyway, back at the hospital, the executives at this hospital see that their ER wait times are too long, or they want to be competitive with other hospitals (because that’s what healthcare has become nowadays), and they figure a wait time metric is a good barometer of their performance.  So they task the manager of the ER will lowering the wait time.

It’s probably safe to say that the “wait time” is defined as the time it takes between the time you check in and the time you get called back to see a nurse or doctor.  So you would walk in and say “I need to see a doctor.”  Your name would be put on a list, then you’d wait for your name to be called.  The time between is dependent on how fast the doctors and nurses can turn over cases.  The ER Manager could add additional staff to make that turnover quicker, but that increases labor costs, lowering profit, which is bad.

But, if you’ve ever been to an ER, there’s plenty of paperwork and such to process before you get started.  The hospital could save some time by giving you the paperwork to fill out while you wait.  That will save some time when you get through the door.  But if you’re a crafty manager, you can take it a step further and not start the check-in process until the paperwork is completed.  So if it takes a patient 20 minutes to fill out the forms and collect the information, that’s not considered “wait time”.  That’s pre-check-in time.  Ka-ching! Problem solved.  No wait, I mean, Goals met!

Oh, There You Are.

Driving home late last night, I caught a glimpse of a billboard.  As tired as I was, I didn’t get a chance to read what was on the sign, but billboards being what they are, I noticed the image on it.  The image showed a standing pregnant woman, holding her package, and Michelangelo’s “hand of god” reaching out to her, complete with E.T. glowing fingertip.

Now, I live in Florida, which has a fair amount of religiousness, and I’m pretty much used to to the fetus billboards that say “Your baby’s heart is already beating!!!!!!!!”  However, this billboard got me pretty riled up.  It was broadcasting the message that now that you are pregnant, God is right there with you.

So where was God a few months ago when you were getting boned by some guy you met at a party?  Where was God when you were grinding on that guy a few hours earlier?  Who was there when you were downing shots like water that night?  Who was watching over you when you were picking out the hottest, sexiest outfit for the party?

If certain people are going to imply that being pregnant is a religious experience, then they have to accept that God either approved, condoned, or encouraged the manner in which the pregnancy occurred.

An Internet Crawl

I started by reading a news article about how airplanes are more densely packed than ever before.  Why is this?  There was a time when air travel was luxurious.  When did it become so lowbrow and pedestrian?  Low fares, obviously.  Everyone can afford to fly now and there are more people now than ever.

Let’s find out about the first point in that statement.  The news article makes mention of a deregulation act passed in 1978. Coincidently, that’s about the time air travel started declining in quality.  Reading an article on the act claims it introduced competition and reduced regulation.  Thanks to the lower fares, airline passengers increased from 207.5 million in 1974 to 721.1 million in 2010.  Although more people are being served, the quality has suffered and the infrastructure can’t support the load.

Now look at the second part of the equation.  More surfing to an article with a US Census chart shows that there are over 100 million more people in the US than when I was born.  Going back to 1950. the US population is half what it is now.  Can you even imagine it?  Half the people everywhere?  No wonder we were so prosperous at that time and now there’s not enough resources to go around.

There’s a saying that is used by people who deliver services: it’s the Tradeoff Triangle (it also goes by other names).  The concept is “Good, Fast, Cheap; choose two”, which means you have to sacrifice something to get more of something else.  In the case of the airline industry, everything has been sacrificed for Cheap.  They’ve held on to Fast for a little while, but with the extreme increase in passenger load, it can’t be efficient anymore.  Flights sell out and you have to choose a less-desirable flight time.  You can get sacrifice Cheap and get a little more Good by buying business-class, but that is a limited experience.