Highways, A Metaphor

Started writing this for something else, but it ended up being a little too elaborate and didn’t fit, so here.

Everybody is born in a car, and the car is driving rapidly down a major highway. When each person comes to life, they know nothing, a reality not unlike John Locke’s posited tabula rasa. Each person knows not where they are, what direction in which they are heading, and especially neither the cause nor the destination of the mysterious car ride.

Unbeknownst to every person as they are born is that the destination is a town called Success, and it exists somewhere in—let’s say Iowa.

So, the first thing that everybody must do is figure out how to drive the car that is already rapidly speeding down whatever highway they are traversing. Well, I guess the first thing the babe must do is realize that they are in fact driving down a highway, whatever that is. Then, figure out how to drive.

If they’re lucky, at some point maybe they’ll figure out that there is a destination. Although, how anybody would be able to tell is beyond me.

The car has enough fuel to last anywhere between one and 100 years, but the driver has no idea how much.

Now, out of every 100 newborn drivers (let’s call them the Supers), three are equipped with a GPS device with the destination (Success, Iowa) already entered and the directions displaying. If they’re lucky, they’ll listen to the soothing computerized voice of the device and easily find their way.

Also out for these every 100 newborn drivers, 20 of the cars contain a map (we call these the Overs). No directions, but Iowa is circled. It’ll be a lot more difficult, but a little reasoning, a little driving around to catch some bearings and at least it won’t be impossible to find the destination.

Of the rest, 70 cars contain a note: “Find Success” (these we’ll call the Offspring). No map, no bearing, no guidance again of any kind. It’s not even clearly a place to go. Some will find it by luck, but most will drive around aimlessly, until the car finally runs out of fuel.

If you’ve done your math, you’ll find that we have seven left. These are given nothing, so we’ll call them the Nothings. They aren’t told there’s a goal to achieve, there’s a point to the drive, that there’s a chance of escape. Maybe by some chance opportunity they’ll drive through Success, Iowa, and think it’s a nice to stop, but how likely do you think that is?

Now, amidst all this driving, some folks who have landed in Success, Iowa, decide: “Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we made some signs pointing here, so that everybody can at least find this tiny town in the middle of nowhere?” And, so, they’ll go around making signs and planting them.

Not everybody agrees. “This place is ours, because we earned it,” they’ll exclaim. “It’s not our fault the rest aren’t smart enough to find it.” So, they’ll first fight to take down the signs, but people seem to think that’s unfair. Why take down the signs?

So, the Anti-Sign Party counters: “Oh, no, we’re not heartless. You see, the signs just have lots of mistakes in them, so it’s confusing to people who would find us anyway. The signs are having the opposite effect of what everybody (including us!) intended. If we take down the signs, it’ll be easier for people to find us!”

Now, that reasoning isn’t great, and people are not really convinced. So, the Anti-Sign Party adds: “The Pro-Sign Party is made of liars! They are deliberately lying to you about the signs, while trying to oppress the drivers out there by lying to them and pointing them away from here! See, that just increases the demand for signs, and maybe they own the sign factories!”

So the signs get taken down. All over the country, no more signs. People just driving around.

Now, don’t get me started on the deteriorating nature of America’s transportation infrastructure.

Till the End of the Day

“Lucky” for us in D.C., it’s barely precipitating at all, while I’m sure it’s getting pretty nasty for our correspondents in Boston and New Haven. Hopefully if you’re surrounded by snow, you’re warm and filled with drink. Or even if you’re not. Here are some things to read regardless:

Today in Big News: Toilet paper is shrinking.

The Little Professor is pretty good on the Greek election result economic big picture.

More: How Greece shows once again that depressions don’t solve policy problems.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry thinks the Obama administration is doctoring the unemployment numbers.

What it’s like to drive Saudi princesses around.

Between Webster’s and the Internet, do we even need an authority on English?

Here’s a really long, but good, piece on Tom Brady.

Here’s some good advice if you’re young enough for it to be helpful.

Holy crap this is stupid.

Existential football.

Tips for crafting the perfect email subject line.

Morning Constitutional – Monday, 26 January 2015

Good morning, everybody. Miss Colombia is the new Miss Universe. Now, your morning constitutional:

So, like, it’s gonna snow a lot today in the Northeast.

The Greek left-wing Syriza party, which won Sunday’s elections, have formed a coalition government with the right-wing Independent Greek party. The new coalition will seek to end years of austerityHere’s a look back at the Greek crisis.

Kurdish fighters assisted by U.S. airstrikes have nearly pushed Islamic State militants out of the town of Kobani, Syria, which borders Turkey.

Pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine have launched a major offensive in eastern Ukraine, ending a five-month ceasefire.

Dominic Ongwen, a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, appeared before the International Criminal Court on Monday, facing charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

A drone may have landed on the White House lawn.

The Argentine journalist who broke the story of the death of a prosecutor who was investigating possible corruption in the Argentine government (previously) has fled to Israel.

In case you missed it, President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi brokered a major agreement this weekend on nuclear trade, climate change and defense ties.

Why are politicians still fighting about immigration reform?

The politics regarding the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II is all about the future of the Air Force and how stupidly we make decisions on weapons.

Texas state representative who wants the state to institute a civics test thinks World War II started on December 7, 1941.

Since 2000, the number of people in the “middle class’ has shrunk as many have fallen to a lower-income bracket.

The press really needs to stop covering Donald Trump.

Finally, high school coach accused of biting another coach in the face,

New York Times Columnist Line of the Day

If you frequent this here premier “web log,” there’s a good chance you may once or twice have read the New York Times op-ed page. You might even recognize the names of the columnists, who every day spout the most conventionally wise of the conventional wisdom. This is a feature that is dedicated to these folks, highlighting one line that is either funny, ridiculous, strange, or actually intelligent or well-written.

Today’s is from David Brooks, who in his column today, “The Devotion Leap,” seems to have sad about what sounds like some disappointing experiences with online dating:

I have to guess some cultures are more fertile for enchantment — that some activities, like novel-reading or music-making, cultivate a skill for it, and that building a capacity for enchantment is, these days, a countercultural act and a practical and fervent need.

Morning Constitutional – Thursday, 22 January 2015

Good morning, everyone. Jennie Garth has a new boyfriend. Now, your morning constitutional:

On the eve of the annual March for Life protest, the House pulled a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

On the trouble in the House Republican caucus.

Representatives from 21 countries are meeting in London to discuss operations against Islamic State militants. At the meeting, Britain’s foreign minister said Iraq is months away from being capable of launching an offensive against the militants.

Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, was arrested on corruption charges Thursday.

Iran has sentenced former Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi to five years in prison on unspecified charges.

The European Central Bank opted not to change its interest rate and is expected to announce further stimulus measures Thursday.

Yemen is now at risk of completely falling apart, which would provide greater opportunities for al Qaeda and other dangerous organizations.

Pro-Russian rebels have forced Ukrainian troops to retreat from the Donetsk airport, a former stronghold for the government’s forces.

What a baseball pitcher signing tells us about inflation.

On one of the silliest (and stupidest) criticisms of Obama’s State of the Union address.

Finally, area man bulldozed his house while his wife was away.