It’s Life, Stupid !

We watched a great movie the other night. “Nebraska” starring Bruce Dern. It was about good old Middle America, warts and all. It was in black and white and as it went on you knew the medium was apt. There was nothing special other than the weirdness of family. The was nothing out of the ordinary except the incredibly stupid things we do as humans. And that was the absolute beauty of it.

A plane is missing as of post time. Malaysian Air with 273 people aboard. A sleek Boeing 777 with every aeronautic contraption known to man. A flight deck chock full of computers of every sort and three very capable people in charge. If you know anything about Malaysia itself  you know this populace to be meticulous and its airline followed suit. The pilot even has a flight simulator in his house but no one has any idea what happened. No record. No trace. Something either mechanical or human went terribly wrong.

This is somewhat similar to an Air France flight on its way from Rio to Paris. Lost somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean with little if any hint of what happened. Turned out the air speed pods had frozen and given the plane’s computers faulty readings. The pilots probably had never seen a malfunction of this sort and reacted if at all, too late. The most bizarre part of all of this is people and legislators are screaming for answers. We have millions of successful flights every year. We have defied gravity with the aluminum behemoths and when one fails we cannot believe it.

Accidents of any sort are so contradictory to our lifestyles today. Everything seems capable of being ruled by algorithms. On Wall Street we have trading computers that do everything on automatic with no human interventions. They buy or sell in nanoseconds and at the end of the day all you have to do is check the machine as to how much money you made or lost. That is all loaded into another machine which then defines your profit or loss in the form of a share price for your entity. And the beat goes on.

We can program the electronic and environmental systems in our houses. Set the mood or the temperature. Maybe a little of both. We outfit our cars with devices to warn of danger and even apply the brakes. Soon your Ford or Chevvy will take care of everything.  Wristlets monitor your heart, blood pressure, blood sugar and your state of sobriety. Uh oh. They’ll monitor your genomes and tell you all you want to know. Maybe even some little pearls you don’t want to know.

We bundle up our kids in helmets, and safety straps. We have allergies and anatomical reactions that were unheard of years ago. For you old farts, how many of you knew kids with peanut allergies when we were growing up? On my bike I had no fenders and the handlebars were flipped backwards to hold my mitt and my bat. The center bar was just perfect for Lee Hayes to hop aboard so I could ride him home from PBC baseball here we didn’t wear helmets. Probably why I turned out as crazy as I am.

I am not fighting progress or science but just trying to give it some perspective. It can’t solve everything. The markets don’t always go up or down as predicted by this spread sheet or guru or Wall Street savant. The economy does defy and even outperform the forecasting of intellectuals locked in their Ivory Towers. People do have a stroke or heart attack  just after being thoroughly checked out in a two day physical at the Mayo Clinic.

We think we have the weather figured out and just when we get smug Mother Nature says, up yours. Global warming? Tell that to the Midwest and Northeast this winter. We were supposed to have 6 major hurricanes last summer and really had none. The more planes and satellites we throw at these things the better we will get but don’ t ever think you have it total wired. That really is the folly of man.

We played golf this morning. You have every rangefinder known to man that now tell you how far it is to the pin and what club you should use. You have a ball and set of clubs that are calibrated to your particular swing. Actually that is an impossibility with my crazy swing. Your sunglasses are designed to help you see the breaks in the green. But as we all know golf is played between the ears. Yes dopey, it is you that has to put the swing in motion. It is you who has to execute. Can’t blame your 95 on the equipment and once again that is the poetry of things.

One night on the beach as we were having a cocktail we noticed an older man sitting by himself watching the sunset. As we chatted he spoke of his grandchildren. He said he had ten and then corrected himself and said nine. His grandson had died of brain cancer and was buried last fall. At the funeral his wife noted how sad it was that the little guy would not know anyone in heaven. She sat down in the pew and then proceeded to collapse and die. With tears in his eyes I couldn’t help but think this man probably hadn’t put a lot of stock in  science. He knew life as it is, for all its unpredictability and brutality. A wonderful but sad lesson for this author to learn.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:

There are approximately 30,000,000 airline flights per year with an infinitesimal number of accidents. The longest scheduled non stop today is form Sidney to Dallas. A distance of some 7500 miles taking up to 16 hours. That is two third of a day in the air.

Contrary to popular opinion, in golf a player’s handicap is intended to show a player’s potential, not a player’s average score. The frequency by which a player will play to their handicap is a function of that golfer’s handicap, as low handicappers are statistically more consistent than higher handicappers. The average male golfer  in the US has a handicap of 16.1, while the average female has a handicap of 28.9.

A few cool automobile safety features. Parking assist. The car will automatically size up a parking space and then proceed to maneuver into it by itself. I wonder if you can use this in your driver’s test? Collision avoidance. This will sense when you are too close to the car in front and apply the brakes automatically. Side view mirror blind spot warning. Will actually tell you before you change lanes of a car in your blind spot.

In 2011, adults drank too much and drove about 112 million times per year – almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving a day.

In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Of those, 122 (54% percent) were riding with the drunk driver.

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