Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bitten Tongue

Working in a vacuum is unhealthy. Errors creep in, go unnoticed, threaten truth. Challenged on a public forum, had to revise some figures cited, because billions spent over time unbelievably became trillions when you skip stating decade instead of year. Still, since 2000, USDOT did spend about $1 trillion dollars. If a dollar was a mile, that would be 10,000 astronomical units, 5,000 roundtrips to Sun, more than all miles of paved roads on Earth. You’d think a few hundred million meanwhile spent on bike paths and lane stripes would have cut costs and improved lives. How do you assess this impact? Did driven miles abate? Those “tons of accidents” never came to pass that naysayers predicted because more are bicycling. In fact, crash fatalities are falling. The more who use bikes instead of inherently dangerous cars, the fewer accidents occur, and less they must spend on potholes. Then again, economic recession would similarly impact cuts with fewer commuting to work, less elective trips, and so forth. Attempts to isolate causes and effects fail. Everything is inextricably intertwined, whence “The Butterfly Effect”, the postulate not video in which Ashton Kutcher dismounts off back of a fixie which continues like an arrow into a bike rack.

Have never heard of PoincarĂ© Recurrence applied to vehicular traffic, but using chaos theory would be perfectly logical. Start point and what happens downstream affect conditions later. Traffic flow is randomly affected by building construction, commute times, recurring festivals, road resurfacing, transportation hubs, urban planning, and whatnot. If recession continues, as bridges collapse and highways close, traffic will retreat from multilane gridlock to something resembling local lanes of yesteryear. Engineers don’t study philosophical theories, even ones a century old. People retreat into silos of thinking, because knowing everything in even the narrowest of disciplines is practically impossible. Individual memories fade; progress tosses out historical reasons. Civilization depends upon countless collaborations continually operating upon consensus. Lawyers define a rule, practitioners comply, regulators monitor, supreme court calls it legal or strikes it down thereby completing circle and creating need for always reevaluating how and what you do.

Who can claim to know everything? Whatever you read is wrong. Knowing nothing is closer to reality. Facing unexpected challenges and surviving is the only talent that matters. Being an oracle only means realigning minds to truths before them. Each statement can be judged by its effect. When people instantly respond, it touches upon whatever they are already thinking, but who cares? Brilliant ideas or works sometimes take decades to radiate; by then, everyone accepts them as commonplace or commonsense. Giving up after impatiently waiting is way too easy. “Not doing that anymore,” is today’s epidemic, since everyone expects quality and no one want to provide anything resembling it. Excellent beats mediocre, but mediocre kicks incompetent’s ass.

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