CSotD: The Curse of Certainty

In Agnes (Creators), Trout is only pretending to be obsessed with uncertainty, but she’d do well on social media, where knee-jerk skepticism is generally mistaken for wisdom.

It’s good to be skeptical. You should question everything.

Howsoever, there is a level of fundamentalist disbelief which is every bit as irrational as fundamental belief. Also, equally arrogant and equally tiresome.

I don’t know how anyone can be certain about things that defy proof, and the best I’ve ever managed was agnosticism.

The Trojan War, after all, was dismissed as legend, until they found the ruins. That doesn’t, however, mean that Athena and Ares took sides in the conflict.

Ditto with most oral traditions. Ditto with most religious traditions.

Granted, uncritical belief and absolute denial each provide a satisfying sense of certainty, if that’s what you require.

However, Denver Post founder Frederick Bonfils said “There is no hope for the satisfied man.”

(I’m skeptical about whether he said it first, but I’m willing to believe he did say it.)


This Arctic Circle (KFS) came out a few days before Captain Kirk went into sorta-space, which geek-event has spawned a number of cartoons. I like Hallatt’s more general observation.

I’m not sure anyone can achieve wisdom by spending a few minutes on top of the troposphere, and I’d be more inclined to trust the insights of someone who had orbited the Earth a couple of times and had time to get over the giddy sensation of zero-gravity and contemplate the scene below.

That’s without opening the can of worms over whether you might get deeper insights from Nichelle Nichols or George Takei than you should expect from William Shatner.

Still, I’d expect a billionaire to learn more by spending a week in a tent on the shores of Jenny Lake than by spending half an hour in a capsule on the edge of space.

Though these penguins don’t mention any return, which makes me more in favor of their proposal.


DD Degg already noted Candorville (WPWG)‘s earlier commentary on Shatner in Space, but I found today’s ruminations on life in a small metal capsule more interesting.

I had fantasies of touring the nation in a camper with my faithful dog at my side, until I learned that “Travels With Charley” was, at best, fiction and perhaps a total fraud.

I prefer “Sullivan’s Travels,” which never pretended to have actually taken place, a factor that gave Preston Sturges a great deal more latitude to tell some truths.


As Clyde suggests, if you really did cut free in a camper, you’d only have enough space for about two changes of clothes, while you’d have to choose between paying for campsites — which could readily exceed the cost of renting an apartment — or living with a jug of water and a camp toilet in a very confined area.

Healthy skepticism includes recognizing the difference between an interesting vacation and a sustainable lifestyle.

Not to mention accepting the likelihood that you’d only be joined by your dog, not by Veronica Lake.


Speaking of whom — Charley, not Veronica — Pickles (WPWG) had a short arc this past week, reflecting on the life spans of dogs and, thus, the temporary nature of their companionship.

I’m not as mushy about it as Nelson, but I do think that each dog has lessons to impart and that you’re a better owner to the next one for it.

And, like Nelson’s grandpa, I’m at the stage where my current pup has a good chance of outliving me, which does bring some philosophy into it.

That’s also room for some skepticism, because it’s not a matter of whether I actually believe my dog will be waiting for me in the next life.

It’s a matter of whether I could handle an afterlife that included a dozen dogs, and that’s before we get into the question of how my ex-gf and ex-wife and I would sort out which dogs were waiting for whom.

An eternity of weekends, alternate holidays and half-summers isn’t my vision of paradise. “Where’s his good collar? And why haven’t you been clipping his nails?”

However, I’m at least willing to extend scripture enough to believe that, in heaven, they neither poop, nor require to be scooped, but are as the angels.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Rubes – Creators)


(Mannequin on the Moon)

Exquisite timing here, because yesterday I took a leaf-peeping trip up to my old stomping grounds along the shores of Lake Champlain, and stopped in to see my former partner on the business beat at the newspaper of which he is, 20 years later, the editor.

Generally, we just divided things up, but one story we covered as a team was the controversy over Alar, which was sprayed on apples to keep them from dropping before they were ripe. The Champlain Valley is a major apple-producing area, so we not only covered it over several weeks when the story broke, but again the next year when growers faced a harvest without it.

I’m willing to bet that banning Alar didn’t make most apples organic, but, then again, I’d be willing to bet that they were organic back in Snow White’s days.

Which doesn’t raise nearly the number of questions that come up in MotM, a joke about the non-skeptical certainty that plant-based is automatically virtuous.

I’ll stipulate that eating less meat would be better not only for us but for the planet, but let’s not go overboard here. Even a vegan society would have a few wrinkles to work out.

For instance, the Bible then goes on to contrast Adam and Eve’s vegan and carnivore sons.

Which raises the crucial theological question:

How long did Cain hate his brother?


Frazz (AMS) really tweaks my skeptical — perhaps cynical — side, since I stopped thinking of college as home halfway through my sophomore year and I still think of where I grew up as “home.”

And, as it happens, when my boys were looking at colleges, I stipulated that, while I’d enjoy it if they were close enough to come home for Thanksgiving, I wanted them at least far enough away that they’d have to do their own laundry.

Wings and roots. And maybe a compass.


2 thoughts on “CSotD: The Curse of Certainty

  1. Listening to Shatner’s bizarre post-flight ramblings about death and darkness, I have to wonder if he wasn’t scared shipless up there.

    In space, nobody can hear you crap your pants.

  2. “Old age means realizing you will never own all the dogs you wanted to.”
    –Joe Gores

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