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Friday, May 24. 2013
Buggy whip industry.
Herewith, I am going to spell out my own little list, dismantling each word in turn. While I'm aware some harsh critic could come along at any minute and point out how this is nothing more than an academic exercise in sophistry, solipsism and semantics, I'd like to go on record as stating that that's exactly what it is.
In a generally ascending order of interest and/or importance:
The Easy Ones:
So, let us begin.
From what I recall, the first business to be inundated with the term was the batteries biz. I'd guess it was somewhere in the early 70's that suddenly every single battery on the shelf was "Heavy-Duty".
Nowadays, it covers everything from ball point pens to diapers.
While this is in the same category as 'Heavy-Duty', it went beyond meaningless with the proliferation of the Web. My DVD-ROM blew a gasket a few months ago. They were $65 at the local Office Depot, 'discounted' down to $55. I bought an exact replacement from some online geek site for nine bucks. I have some more dramatic examples here.
At least with 'heavy-duty' and 'discounted', no actual harm is being done. But to label a food 'natural', and then fill it with a bunch of crap that sneaks by FDA guidelines actually has the potential to hurt someone who's ultra-allergic to certain things and is taking the word 'natural' at face value. There have been lots of articles written over the years on the weird non-food fillers they put in our comestibles.
I've actually had three real-life experiences with this word over the past year.
1. I had moved to a different marina and my Verizon Wireless Internet stopped working. I was now behind the local cell tower, which, as it turns out, are very directional. I tried the latest Verizon Wireless unit, then a Sprint unit, and no go.
So I started searching around for companies that specialized in rural setups and came up with a company called Broadband Blue:
Unlimited, that is, until I decided that my videos ran better from a different site than the one they were on and went to move them. I was somewhere around the 20-gig mark when I got an email from the company informing me that Sprint (whose service it was using) had informed them that if I didn't cool it with all the bandwidth, they'd close my account. When I mentioned the "unlimited usage" on their web site, I was told this was Sprint, not them, and thus it was out of their hands. So I guess they apparently forgot to tell Sprint they'd be opening up, quote, unlimited, unquote, accounts.
2. Still having some video streaming problems, it appeared from some tests that it might be the web hosting company. Since it doesn't cost much to fire up a 1-month hosting account, I looked around and found Apollo Hosting:
I got the site up and running, but before uploading some 30-odd gigs of video (still reeling from my experience with Broadband Blue, I was going to upload them via a friend's computer), I thought I'd give them a quick call, just to let them know that it was a one-time thing. I was told in no uncertain terms that if I went past the 15-gig mark of server storage space, my account would be suspended. When I mentioned the "unlimited" on the web site, I was told that it meant 'unlimited' for the average user, and that over 15 gigs was above average.
"Oh," I said, and closed the account.
3. I have tow insurance for my boat so if it gets disabled while out at sea, I get a free tow back home. The tow guys charge about $225/hr, so an $800 to $1,200 towing fee isn't unusual, which tends to make the $150/yr TowBoat US fee a real deal if & when you need them. I've used them three times in six years, so I'd say I'm ahead of the game.
I needed them about a year ago when I moved to this marina. I'd hit some rocks and the rudders were off the boat awaiting repair.
I knew there wouldn't be any problem because, after all, TowBoat US has...
When I called them to set up a tow date, I was informed that my boat had a pre-existing condition, which they knew about since they'd towed me home when I hit the rocks, and they only covered immediate problems.
At one point, not long after, a good friend down in Key West, about 60 miles away, wanted me to move down there and hang out in his marina. Since the boat was still without rudders, I figured I'd have to pull a bit of chicanery, like having a neighbor tow me out to sea, then give TowBoat US a frantic call saying my hydraulics had gone out and I needed a tow back home to my dear, beloved Key West. I did a little more digging on their web site.
That's when I found out that the second actual meaning of unlimited is 25 miles of towing, max.
Somebody really ought to sue all three companies for fraudulent advertising.
The old expression, It's not the heat, it's the humidity, is one of the truest in the book. No greater example could be found than the scorching August day I flew from Las Vegas to Florida.
Las Vegas in the summer can easily reach 110 degrees. With the ultra-low humidity, though, it feels like it's in the low 90's. Hot, but not swelteringly so. That's what it was the day I left.
When I arrived in Orlando, it was a beautifully pleasant day in the mid-80's. The humidity was so thick and oppressive I felt like I was swimming underwater. My clothes were soaked with sweat within minutes.
So, yes, while 'heat' does play a part in the scientific world, in the human world it's really the humidity you're feeling more than anything, given a rough temperature zone.
And, interestingly, the reverse is also true. It was down in the chilly mid-50's here in the Keys last December but actually felt rather pleasant out, simply because the humidity was extra high.
Along similar lines, when it comes to moving big objects around, weight versus density is the question of the moment. Here's an example that illustrates the two.
When I moved aboard the boat, I bought a new fridge and a garbage compactor. Both weighed about 100 pounds. The refrigerator was in a great big box which I manhandled onto the boat fairly easily, simply because it 'walked' around quite nicely because the weight was distributed over a fairly large area so it rocked back and forth without much effort.
The much-smaller garbage compactor box was a bitch. Because it was so dense and heavy, it didn't 'walk' worth a damn, so it really did need to be muscled aboard.
Like heat and humidity, while 'weight' still has meaning at the Post Office, in the human world the density of an object can play an even greater role than its weight.
Summing up the two, using 'heat' or 'weight' without context is relatively meaningless.
As in, renewable resources, as in wind and solar power.
Say, here's a question for ya:
What part of wind or solar power is renewed?
The solar beams that hit the panel and the wind that drives the blades are expended every bit as much as a block of coal is. Nothing is redone or reused or renewed. They apparently want it to mean "there's more where that came from", but that's also true with coal, water and natural gas. They'd like to add "for free!" at the end, but if 'free' really made that much of a difference, the outputted energy would be much cheaper than 'non-free' energy sources. Since it's just the opposite, the 'free' part of the equation is meaningless.
What the word really means is simply "It's not one of those bad fossil fuels". But, by that definition, hydroelectric power, natural gas and nuclear power are also 'renewables'. But, gosh, I don't see any of the renewables crowd pushing any of that stuff.
This word isn't just meaningless, it's bullshit.
I'm including this odd word on the side simply because it popped up the other day when I posted an article on the wonders of modern video wizardry:
On my Google Earth Project site is a video tour of the various swastika-shaped buildings on earth. There are only six of them, not surprisingly.
The page for the tour is here. Notice all the verbiage that precedes the actual tour acting as the proscribed and requisite pre-apology so necessary because a swastika is involved.
We'll let the author of the 'More Info' link on the swastika page explain it:
Of course, there's only little problem with this scenario.
Jews aren't a 'race', so the word racism doesn't apply.
If you absolutely demand to place a label on them, try global tribe, or religious enclave, or even social construct, but Jews aren't any more of a 'race' than Muslims or Catholics or Two-Seed-In-The-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists are.
At least, that's how the word 'race' has been viewed for the past 10,000 years.
As you may — or may not — have been taught in school, there are only three actual races in the world, Negroid, Caucasian and Asian. A pitch was made in the 70's to have American Indian be decreed its own race, but DNA later proved they were descended from Asians who had crossed the Bering Strait back back in the dawn of time when the two continents were more connected.
Today, the word 'racism' is almost meaningless. It first jumped the shark when Reconquista — the return of the southwest part of the U.S. to its original owner, Mexico — arrived about eight years ago and anyone decrying the plan was immediately branded a racist. Because, unknown to anthropologists throughout the world, there were now four races of human beings. But at least it kind of made sense, in that Mexicans have a slightly browner skin tone than your average WASP.
But that was just the warm-up.
Because, in case you haven't heard, Irish people are also a race.
So are the Scottish.
And, as it turns out, those Scots are terribly racist!
A Google search for "ireland scotland racism" yields over seven million hits on the subject, including — not surprisingly — scads of articles on all that horrible anti-Scottish racism that those racist Irish people exhibit!
Of course, one problem with turning 'nationalities' into 'races' is that it begs the question, what if your mom is 100% Irish and your dad is 100% Scottish? What's that make you?
I guess you get to pick from one of the three 'm' words; mutt, mongrel or mulatto.
Which raises the question, how many people in Ireland and Scotland are actually 100% pure Irish or Scottish? In the melting pot the world has become over the past century, would it surprise anyone if the answer was "19%"?
As I'm putting the finishing touches on this article...
1. Bird Dog posts a link to The Politics of Dolls:
2. I re-watch the fun movie (language warning in effect) 'Smokin' Aces II':
And what's truly sobering about that clip is that the screenwriter, producer, director, and the scads of people who read the script never thought about it twice. By today's standards, calling a person of Italian descent a vile, derogatory word like 'Guinea' is obviously racist.
Y'know, I was just pointing that out to these folks!
There is no such thing as someone being "smarter" than someone else without qualification.
If you want to say you're smarter than me when it comes to international finance, nuclear physics or how to weave a waterproof basket out of swamp grass, that's fair game. But for every single way you can point out how you're smarter than me — or pretty much anyone — I can turn right around and prove how much smarter I am than you.
What would you suggest the average bitrate be for a quality MPEG-2 video render?
Should you give a horse a treat when it does a trick right?
If it wasn't Magellan, then who first sailed around the world?
Did Jimi Hendrix write an early, uncredited Neal Young song?
Or, to dip into my Doc's Secrets site:
What's a sure-fire way to get into the Guinness Book of World Records?
How can you contact every single actual congressperson at once?
How can you double your pot yield?
Did you learn about keeping your pituitary gland active during your mid to late 30's before it was too late?
Know where any iridium strikes are?
You take my point? I could go on for days. So could the next person. You might be more educated and experienced and have a sixth sense like mechanical intuition and a flair for art and be a maestro on the piano and can lecture on the intricacies of nuclear physics, but as soon as you point to that guy next to you and think, "I'm smarter than him", he's going to turn around and ask you if you how to weave a waterproof basket out of swamp grass.
He'll then proceed to ask you another twenty-five questions like the above, all of them testing your inventiveness on various ways of saying "Sorry, don't have a clue."
Without any qualifying perspective, the word "smarter" is generally meaningless.
I'm not sure there are any.
The sky is blue?
Well, no, actually the sky is clear. It's the water vapor that's blue.
The earth is round?
Well, no, actually it's ovate, wider at the equator. It's just generally round.
The sun is going to rise tomorrow?
Well, let's just say the odds have it. Just because some wild-haired geek named Einstein said nothing can move faster than the speed of light doesn't actually make it true throughout the entire vastness of the universe. A mini black hole traveling at light speed times light speed might pop into our solar system this afternoon and gobble Mr. Sun right up.
The sun will rise tomorrow isn't a truth, it's just a fairly certain prediction.
The sun is going to die in 4.5 billion years?
Well, except for the fact that at the 4.1-billion mark, a gigantic young sun-in-the-making gaseous mass collided with it and gave it another 15 billion years. And then, at the 14.2-billion year mark, another gaseous mass came along and did the same thing, ad infinitum. Sure, the odds are astronomical, but, in an infinite universe, it has to happen somewhere. Why not here?
Death and taxes?
Taxes is an easy one. It simply depends on where you live. Go move to a deserted tropical island and you won't have any taxes at all, promise.
Death? Sure, except that ten minutes ago it was announced that a major breakthrough in cryogenics had been achieved and they can now freeze your body safely until they figure out how to electronically transfer your brain into a new body.
But suddenly, to our horror, the person standing next to us is shot seventeen times in a horrific drive-by shooting. You turn to me, point at the bullet-riddled figure on the ground and say,
Oh, you mean by today's standards? How about the semi-near future? Did you see Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'The 6th Day'? Like the cryogenics scenario, it's certainly not improbable that one day we'll be able to electronically suck a brain right out of a skull and store it on a disc, ready for reposting into a new brain in an identical cloned body.
Human cloning, like abortion and gayness just a few decades ago, is considered unethical at this point, but ethos and cultures inevitably change over time.
And that's the truth.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:00 | Comments (24) | Trackbacks (0)
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That was the most interesting thing I've read in a goddam month. I can see a few places where petty people will nitpick it (Agent Cooper, Tom Francis, that's your cue), but in general it was right on the money and made for a very fun read. More! More!
Hey, I'm just getting warmed up. :)
Be sure to tune in next Tuesday.
In my defense, precision in factual statements is not a "nitpick" - it is the very reason language was invented - that is to say, to provide precise descriptions, meanings, intents, concepts, etc., etc., etc. Therefore when my good friend Doc Mercury says that something is "the only" when it isn't "the only" it is too late to say "I meant official" when that statement of being official should have been in the statement in the first place.
Last, but certainly not least, it is tons of fun to tweak Doc's nose from time-to-time - he's the perfect foil. :>)
"In my defense, precision in factual statements is not a "nitpick" - it is the very reason language was invented - that is to say, to provide precise descriptions, meanings, intents, concepts, etc., etc., etc. Therefore when my good friend Doc Mercury says that something is "the only" when it isn't "the only" it is too late to say "I meant official" when that statement of being official should have been in the statement in the first place."
But that's the whole point right there.
Nobody here is taking notes or keeping score, and certainly (we hope!) not taking anything as the unvarnished truth since it is, after all, a blog site. By definition alone, it's opinionated as hell.
The problem both you and Agent Cooper have is that it's like you're cruising from backwater blog site to backwater blog site (where your comment won't get lost among hundreds), eager to pounce on the next implied 'official' being left out of a sentence and attacking with gotcha-like gusto, never mentioning anything about the actual article, much less complimenting anything.
As we old hippies would say, it's a 'balance' thing.
I say the perfect foil is gold, but aluminum is fine for the kitchen.
I agree with Bob, that was a barrel of fun. You are the master of slice & dice!
Here's the best compliment I can give you, Doc:
This is precisely why I drop by Maggie's every day. You just never friggin' know.
How about 'always' and 'never'?
I gave them some thought, but they're both so extreme that I figured they'd just eliminate themselves by association. "He always put on his left shoe first until the day he died," is fine, but obviously nothing on a 'cosmic' scale ("The sun will always rise in the East") will 'always' do so in a universe which will eventually end.
Here is why the sky is blue. The atmosphere scatters blue light about 10 times more than it scatters red light.
So your argument is that it's the truth that the sky is blue.
Well, except at night.
Or when it's cloudy.
Even if you're scientifically correct, it's not much of a 'truth', is it?
But thanks for playing. :)
Euler's Identity, e^(i*pi) + 1 = 0 , is both constant and true.
It also does not seem to relate to anything in the known universe other than its own quantities.
Well, I checked online with a bud of mine on the planet Zirgon-5 in the Quadrentia Galaxy and he said that due to a strange anomaly between their two suns and three moons, the equation they applied used '1.257894' instead of just '1'.
But such are the random vagaries in an untruthful universe!
I was discussing words, of course, not math or formulae. 2 + 2 = 4 is a truth, and will remain so long after man has gone.
Now that was a kick! I'm purty good with this solipsism/semantics stuff, so I read through the whole thing looking for the little debils. I was about halfway through before I realized it was a red herring. You were actually being as 'factual' as you could be, like the links proving the racism point or first-hand experiences. Nicely done. And I liked the ending. After 'proving' there were no truths out there, you finished up with an undeniable one.
Typical Doc. :-)
As for the first question, I'd go with 1,500 kbps. Some would claim that MPEG-2 needs a min of 2K, and that might be true for a single render, but a 2-pass render will compensate for the lack of bitrate goodness.
Did I score?
Yes. Please award yourself two Official Maggie's Bonus Points™. The Maggie's software can tell if you have them on your system, which will enable you to see the secret posts that are automatically hidden from everybody else. The nude exposé on Sophia Vergara was especially well done.
Thanks for playing,
Did you just say that two English words mean the exact same thing?
I mean, this is kind of a "language first", so I want to make sure of the facts before I start writing the post on this historic event.
TowUSA, BoatUS are the pits when it comes to towing recreational towing services. When folks ask me, I always tell them to go with Sea//Tow - they are up front with what they will and won't do and what the limits of the policy are. I've been with them since they were first in the business when the Coasties stopped doing it and even worked for Sea//Tow part time in Point Judith and Mystic. I've never heard anybody complain about Sea//Tow.
In their defense, part of the problem is that some sign up for service and never use it. Some sign up and the service never stops. So there has to be some limits. I think what you may have run into there is one of the "limited" or "partial" franchises. These are mostly commercial marine services that run the recreational business as a sideline so they limit the types of "unlimited" towing.
Of course the other thing is home port - sometimes what happens is that there isn't a local provider available due to other service calls so they have to pull in another operator from a different franchise and that's where things get sticky.
But I agree - the terminology makes you believe they are providing a broader service than they imply.
I can't remember exactly what the bad thing was I heard about SeaTow (years ago), but it was something like they'll only tow you to a fix-it yard, not back to a private slip. But that might just be a local thing. In none of my own three mishaps (hydraulics twice, rudders bent) did I want that.
That story crops up once in a while and it is based on an actual incident only the details get left off. It happened with near Niantic, CT. Without getting into a lot of detail, a boat lost its stave bearing and the resulting vibration worked up the prop shaft, blew out the stuffing box and the boat started taking on water. Sea//Tow showed up, air bagged the boat to keep it floating and took off. The owner wanted it back in his slip - the tow operator refused to take it to the slip and instead took it to the repair yard. Court suit which tow operator won. End of story.
I stopped reading at "Heavy Duty," because nothing is heavy-duty anymore. Everything is cheap crap. That was all the affirmation I needed for today.
In my opinion, the number one word that has become meaningless is
And I can vouch that the Scottish part of me hates the Irish part of me, and vice versa. The Italian, Swiss, English and German parts of me just stand on the sidelines and watch the other two duke it out.
OOOOOOOOH, Doc, you make me so MAD! And if feels gooooooooooooooooood!
Kudos, felicitations, salutations, and railroad stations! Not to mention deviations. Oops!
"Kudos, felicitations, salutations, and railroad stations!"
Why, thank you, old friend. I mean, in a kudoistic, felicitatious, salutationistic, railroadery stationesque kind of way.
That kinda from-the-heart compliment means somethin'!
(a whole team of cryptologists is working on what)
You missed the Grandaddy of meaningless words: "Sustainable". Survey whomever you want and ask any random group of 10 people for the definition of "Sustainable". No two people will give the same definition.
Secondly, "Sustainability" is scientifically impossible, because true "Sustainability" violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Entropy is always increasing, has been since the Big Bang, and will continue until everything goes cold.
Nothing in this world is sustainable in any meaningful way. It is a faulty concept, that has led to much faulty thinking.
"Sustainability" sounds nice and scientific, but belongs on the trash heap with perpetual motion machines.