CSotD: Good choices, bad choices

Dark Side of the Horse (AMS) takes a second look at a silly expression and I’m glad I’m not the only person who thinks that dying young doing something pointless is not a good idea.

I gather the expression is supposed to balance the values of a short, thrilling life and a long, boring life, but you should be able to find interest without just chasing risk. And if you do crave risk, channel it.

Back when people were leaping off things, someone set up a crane near our house and was charging people to do bungee drops from it.

My son, a newly minted firefighter, suggested that, if they wanted an adrenalin rush, they try walking into a burning building, since it lasts longer and is useful.

Hard to argue with that.

On the other hand, as Non Sequitur (AMS) points out, it is pointless to keep expecting that people will make intelligent and rational choices.

I have more than a slight suspicion as to which island Wiley thinks is which, but he’s smart enough not to bother labeling them because that’s not his point. Rather, it’s the foolishness of thinking the two are the same.

Choose whichever you prefer, but don’t fall back on the excuse of not being able to tell the difference between them. It’s an admission of stupidity.

If you have no sense, at least have a bit of pride.

Moderately Confused (AMS) offers a bad decision in a different setting, and the issue here requires a look at the point of college.

In the Olden Days, colleges tended to be how the children of privilege became more well-rounded, but both Tom Brown at Oxford (1859) and Stover at Yale (1912) were remorseless in contrasting their spoiled, indulgent lifestyles with those of students of lesser means and more focused intentions.

The expansion of collegiate education led us to middleclass kids going into five-figure debt with no sense of what they intended to do next, much less how they were going to pay back their loans, a result of too many years of hearing “the college of your choice” as a goal in itself.

I’m a big believer in gap years. A year of working for a living can help you figure out what you really want out of life, while taking a break in the conveyor-belt of a K-16 education can also stimulate some more adult thought.

I had a friend who was getting Phd at Great Prestigious University while teaching at Workingclass College, and he found the older, more gritty students he taught more interesting than his classmates.

Being practical and being interesting are not incompatible goals.

Still on the topic of practicality, Pearls Before Swine (AMS) hits on something I was just pondering the other day, seeing yet one more person walking around with airpods or some sort of connectors in his ears.

My first response was my usual one of “Who do you think you are?” which is about businesspeople who are just too darned important to ever be disconnected. But it also occurred to me that I’d lose the damn things anyway.

They’d wind up under the sofa cushions along with my car keys and the TV remote, and then only if I were lucky.

As for romantic relationships, I may not have held onto them either, but at least I know where they are, whether or not they want to be found being a different question entirely.

Betty (AMS) spent the week complaining about apps that go to a subscription mode, and at least when you lose something under the sofa cushions, it’s your own fault. Losing something because someone else got greedy is another matter.

It’s a good reason to avoid dwelling in the cloud, where you’re much more at the mercy of the Cloudholder.

When Photoshop became a rental a decade ago, I was lucky enough to have a disk and also to have no need for all the bells and whistles that have been added since CS3, which I mounted on each successive computer until my latest.

At the risk of indulging in a conspiracy theory, I suspect Windows 11 can recognize and reject my disk. In any case, it wouldn’t accept it, so I went out and got Corel, because I may be vulnerable but I’m not complicit.

Subscribe to this, pal.

It’s not just the young people who can’t translate the mumbling, though I saw the same survey Rabbits Against Magic (AMS) is citing. I have also flipped on the closed captioning in order to follow the dialogue, and my curse is upon James Dean and Marlon Brando and whoever taught them that mumbling is authentic.

Now the latest assault is that entire channels have gone into Mumble Mode, and I don’t know if it’s them or my TV or my ISP, but I’m having to adjust volume within substantial ranges from one to another and I’m tempted just to mute everything and go to closed captioning.

Or read a damn book.

Which brings us to Off the Mark (AMS) and a good joke that comes with a substantial load of baggage.

I certainly agree that the lists of banned books contain a lot of things kids should read, but its real value is clues as to what the fascisti don’t want them to read. That is, the reason a book is on the list can be of interest and yet the book itself may not be worthwhile.

One of the disconnects in kid lit is that teachers and librarians — not kids — hand out most of the awards, and a lot of truly mediocre “message” books are greatly praised by the grown-ups while the kids are reading something else entirely.

I had to teach my young book reviewers that they were supposed to say if the book was interesting and worth reading, but that they were not required to say what its message was, because some interesting, worthwhile books don’t have one.

I often point out instances of fortuitous, coincidental timing but I was flabbergasted to see today’s Wide Open (UU) the morning after Rich Powell won the award for best on-line, short-form comic at the NCS convention.

I don’t know if he’s got a Cintiq or a Wacom, but I know what he does have and they’re spectacular.

15 thoughts on “CSotD: Good choices, bad choices

  1. A few weeks ago, I attended the preview showing of BLUE BEETLE because I always like to see DC movies in the theatre. I enjoyed it, and it appears I was lucky to see it theatrically because it hasn’t stuck around for long. But the combination of a very noisy background and a lot of stuff in Spanish (which i don’t speak) made me regret that WBD changed the movie’s trajectory, because it was initially meant to debut on Max. and now I’m looking forward to its debut there in October or thereabouts, because with closed captioning, I’m certain I’ll be picking up a whole bunch of dialogue which wasn’t actually in Spanish after all. It’s really not good to be wishing they’d turn on the closed captioning IN THE THEATRE. And yeah, I’m old, but my hearing’s just fine–it’s the movies that have gotten (aurally) smaller.

  2. Speaking of bad choices, I’ve often wondered why people never say, “He died doing what he loved” when referring to drug overdoses.

    And if you want to read a 500+ page book about bad choices, pick up “Damon Copperhead” by Kingsolver. It runs at least 300 pages too long, and by the end of the book, you question your own sanity and will for life.

    1. I think when AC?DC singer Bon Scott died in 1980 (drinking and doing heroin and suffocating on his own vomit) the band’s statement was pretty close to “he died doing what he loved.”

  3. Closed captioning has become a habit in our house.
    Just wish there was a way to adjust it when every so often it plays slightly faster or slower than the program so that by the end of the show it’s a full second or two out of sync!

  4. Interesting as I’ve heard folks use “you only live once” to mean do something out of your comfort zone. But not necessarily for doing something dangerous. Like ask someone you just met out, or watch a movie or read a book that is different than what you usually do. Or add some hot peppers to your beans. Or to act silly or spontaneous.

  5. Mike, you are soooo right about the cloud. A group of lawyers sent all their files to a cloud cluster. One crooked lawyer triggered law enforcement to quarantine all those cloud servers and all the files of hundreds of lawyers became inaccessible. Many of Appple’s cloud servers have been in China under the control of regional Chinese governments.

    I receive no benefit from posting this except the ongoing benefit of helping people avoid Corrupt Corporate Greed http://www.portablefreeware.com/all.php There are two or three other similar sites available. They have thousands of free and portable windows programs in dozens of subjects. And, Linux has tens of thousands of free programs that are as good, or better, than their Corporate counterparts. I’m using Linux now, free, more reliable and faster. Don’t drink the corporate cool-aid, it’s too expensive and too toxic.

    Speaking of book lists. A 2018 OKLA teacher of the year was recently fired just for letting students know about the wonderful Brooklyn Public library. The state superintendent was vengeful and then tried to get her teaching credentials pulled. You don’t want to know what he announced they would be pushing on the students, now.

  6. Don’t think that someone is self-important when you see them wearing earbuds. I recently discovered that many new hearing aids look just like earbuds, stems and all. Apparently the stems are better at picking up sound.

  7. People like the illusion of taking risks, rather than actual risk.

    It’s why people will skydive or bungee jump with tons of safety precautions, but won’t become firefighters or any other profession where you might actually get hurt/killed.

  8. …or possibly, as we age our hearing is not as acute as it used to be…which is why I keep CC on . The new “unnoticeable” hearing aids are exactly what I would immediately lose, so why bother.

  9. I agree. When Quicken went to subscription mode, after I had paid for an untold number of upgrades over many years, I switched to another product (Moneydance) that can handle my personal accounting needs but lets me choose whether to buy yet another upgrade or not.

    I also agree about Mumble Mode, although an even worse cousin is Whisper Mode, both in TV and movies.

    Finally, I applaud that Off the Mark reading list.

  10. Great column today. You’re right about the people who have to be noticed doing important things on the phone. They’re missing what’s happening in the present time. As to the banned books, most of the “Bad” turn out to be not such a scandal as they’re made out to be! ?

    1. The problem is that most of them turn out to not be very good. Having a positive message won’t make up for crummy writing. It’s just Sturgeon’s Law in action — 90% of everything is crap.

  11. A number of the comments for the Off the Mark (I know, I know) repeated the same BS. “They’re not banning books, they’re just getting rid of porn.”

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