Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Traffic as a Metaphor for Life

Now that I've been back in the full-time workforce for almost half a year, driving in rush hour traffic a couple of hours a day five days a week, except on those days when I can blissfully take the train because I don't have to drop Thumper off at school, I find myself thinking about this article almost every day. It uses flowing liquid as a model for how traffic behaves and makes some conclusions on how we can improve our lot in heavy traffic. Actually, it concludes that we can't do anything to help ourselves, but we can help those poor suckers stuck behind us.

It goes on and on and on, and I know none of you are going to actually read it, but the gist is: leave large following distances. Even in slow traffic. Even when that guy is passing on the right and merging left just before the lane closure, the lane closure that you saw signs for 2 miles back and changed lanes to avoid, but he kept right the hell on going and now he wants in front of you after speeding up the right lane, like the rest of us jerks don't matter at all. Even then: large following distances. For each of the problems that heavy traffic presents (spikes of hard acceleration/deceleration, closing lanes, blocked lanes), the solution is the free movement of cars from lane to lane, which in practical application is: large following distances.

I blogged about this article before, and what I like about this philosophy is, regardless of whether its application actually makes things better, it removes the urge to drive competitively, to teach that other guy a lesson by sticking as close to the bumper of the car in front of  as you can and not letting him in. Despite that urge, you and I both know in our hearts that that guy doesn't learn any lesson. No one learns any lessons about cooperative action by having that cooperation withheld. He just calls you names and moves on with his day, probably forgetting all about you long before you've forgotten about him.

So in summary:

Stop worrying about what the other guy is doing, and stop trying to take away his ability to do it. We all benefit.

The end.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


"Tonight, we not only speak to the members of the Greater Jerusalem Baptist Church. We not only speak to Baptist people tonight. We not only speak to the Methodist people tonight. Church of God in Christ, Catholics, or no particular denomination. No particular city. But tonight we speak to the whole nation. Tonight, our message: Drop the hate! Forgive each other!"

I've been thinking about my problems lately, and sometimes feeling sorry for myself for the hurts done to me, and sometimes feeling guilty for the hurts I've done to others.

And then I think, really, things are pretty fuckin' good.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no one actively working to end my existence because of who I am or what I believe.

I'm surrounded by people that I love, who make me smile and laugh out loud almost every single day.

I have such an abundance of clean drinking water, that I expel my bodily wastes into it all the time.

I have such an abundance of food, that I track my consumption with a handheld computer that sends data to and receives data from space just so I don't eat too ridiculously much.

My greatest health concern is trying not to get sick from too much pleasure.

I have a job with health benefits and a salary that allows me not only a nice home and all that food and water, but also the ability to do almost anything I want, almost any time I want.

And virtually everyone I know has all of these things, too.

Clearly, some of these ideas I owe to the incomparable Louis CK:

"You're in a chair in the sky!"

"But, it doesn't lean back very much..."

Ha. Anyway. What was I saying? Oh, yeah.

When I look around, I'm baffled to see so many people so determined to be angry and unhappy. At work and in my private life, there are several people that seem to work very hard at being mad. They look closely for new injustices that have been heaped upon them by cruel circumstance and cruel people.

I hate being mad. I want it to end as soon as possible. I hate lying awake at night going over and over in my mind how angry I am. I'd rather sleep peacefully and wake up rested and refreshed. So I wonder: are there physical differences in our brains such that some people experience anger as a pleasurable sensation? I've always said of some people, "They're not happy unless they're mad," and now I'm wondering if it's literally true. Is anger akin to joy in the brains of some people? Are there studies on this, complete with colorful images of parts of the brain "lighting up" at the opportunity to tell someone else that they said or did the wrong thing, or said or did it the wrong way, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons? And to tell them over and over again, with white-hot rage?

The phrase "righteousness orgasm" popped into my brain the other day to describe the apparently climactic joy in expressing outrage at perceived victimization of a just or innocent person, and we all tend to think of ourselves as at least mostly just and innocent. It can be seen in comments sections all over the internet, and I think it's what Lenore Skenazy noticed in this post on Free-Range Kids. It's an outrage that seems easiest to express in writing, because face-to-face communication allows too much humanization of the offending party, too much explanation of extenuation, too much give and take, to really allow a good orgasmic buildup of righteous indignation.

I know I've indulged in the righteousness orgasm now and again, and even recently. I'm trying though, Lord. I'm trying.

Anyway, now I'm going to go turn my Pandora from Rage Against the Machine back to Lyle Lovett. And tomorrow, I'm told, is Aloha Friday. I've never been to Hawaii, but I have no doubt I can only benefit from more ukulele in my life.

Aloha, fuckers! Namaste, bitches!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Yep, Still Me to a T

Yep. I'm still over here proving that truer words were never said of me than, "You never could keep your fuckin' mouth shut." I'm feeling down and out because of my mistakes, but I'll be back on top and whistling a jaunty tune soon because I'm finally getting to accept and like myself and my quirks, and my foibles, and yes, even my utter failings. Not everyone thinks so, but I'm a good man doing good things. If I love you, I'll do anything for you, and there's a bunch of you out there that I love. You keep me going. You keep me from slipping in the pitfalls. I'm still going, y'all. This is just me on the regular.

Related Posts with Thumbnails