Saturday, July 23, 2016

Waiting for Godot or His Doppelganger -- The Colonel Carries on #42

By Terry Binth of Mamre, New Hampshire

Epigraph: “If Godot don’t show, love the one you’re with.”

πŸ’¬ Why do German households use less electricity than U.S. households? Basically, because electricity is much more expensive there than here, so they economize. Here’s how they do it.

πŸ’¬ They mostly don’t use air-conditioning or even fans.

πŸ’¬ They mostly don’t use clothes dryers. They hang things out to dry. In laundromats, there’s often a high-speed spinner/wringer between the washing machine and the dryer, so things going into the  dryer are already largely dry, so the dry/fluff session is shorter than in the U.S.

πŸ’¬ Home heating is never electric. Most homes use gas.  Older homes use oil. Distance heating (aka district heating, heat networks, and teleheating) is growing fast.

πŸ’¬ Houses are smaller. And many more people live in apartments and row houses, so heat is “shared.”

πŸ’¬ Germans don’t light their homes so brightly, preferring the intimate darkness of “GemΓΌtlichkeit.” And they don’t leave lights on needlessly.

πŸ’¬ Germans rush to adopt energy-saving technology like CFL and LED bulbs and energy-efficient appliances, because they save serious money quickly.

πŸ’¬ That German lifestyle may seem attractive or repellent, but if the U.S. replaced, say, the federal income tax with a carbon tax, we’d all be “going German” in short order. Hello, little bitty luxury cars!

πŸ’¬ The same would happen if the carbon tax revenue went to pay off all federally guaranteed education loans in a massive act of retroactive subsidy. The point is not what the tax revenues would go to, but the effect it would have on consumption. There’d have to be energy stamps like food stamps, too.


πŸ’¬ “The infinite monkey problem” is the name I like better than “the monkeys with typewriters problem.” How long would it take an infinite number of monkeys, each typing randomly on a typewriter, to produce Hamlet (the play, not the prince)? Almost surely several hours at least.


πŸ’¬ If Elizabeth Montgomery hadn’t landed the role of Samantha in “Bewitched,” Erin Gray would have been a good choice. Instead she was in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” Couldn’t wriggle her nose the right way, I guess.

Erin Gray with natural teeth

πŸ’¬ Speaking of Erin Gray and Elizabeth Montgomery, do you know that you are reasonably likely to have at least one doppelganger, and maybe many? At first, second, and third glance it seems unlikely, but...

πŸ’¬ A study of a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel measured distances between key features such as eyes and ears. The chances of two people having even eight identical such measurements are less than one in a trillion. Sophisticated facial recognition software would catch only 135 people in the world with doppelgangers.

πŸ’¬ But the brain apparently doesn’t work like facial recognition software. It takes shortcuts that produce a lot more matches. Consider these lads:

πŸ’¬ And these:

πŸ’¬ And these:

πŸ’¬ (Grammatical note: I use the generic “lads” to cover “lasses,” too. It’s not only efficient but also a tiny way to honor the patriarchs who built the world in which we live. Note to self: don’t go out in public any more.)

πŸ’¬ And here are Hallie Jackson and Lizzy Caplan, both reportedly of NBC News:

πŸ’¬ Apropos of nothing, did Jim Morrison of The Doors ever marry Sting of The Police?

πŸ’¬ The several pairs above are far from identical, but the brain pairs them nevertheless. Hence the popular “separated at birth” novelty feature.


πŸ’¬ And now a meditation on gun control. The Bill of Rights, which includes the Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms), applies by its terms to Congress and by extension to the whole federal government, but not to the states.

πŸ’¬ Enter the Fourteenth Amendment, which bans the states from violating due process and equal protection. This has been held to “incorporate” the Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment, so that not just Congress, but the several states are banned from infringing Second Amendment rights.

πŸ’¬ Wouldn’t it be hermeneutic child’s play to replace “incorporationism” with another theory of due process and equal protection that doesn’t embrace the right to bear arms? That would leave the states free to pass any gun control laws they pleased.

πŸ’¬ There might be the side effect of leaving the states also free to establish churches and abridge the rights of speech, press, and assembly, but there may be lemonade to be made from those lemons. Think state-passed campaign finance restrictions not allowed to Congress under incorporationism (Citizens United).

πŸ’¬ And imagine Metropolitan Community Churches as Connecticut’s established church, the first since 1818.

πŸ’¬ We may be on the verge of a new era in which novel omelettes can be made because previously sacrosanct eggs can be broken. One more “living constitutionalist” on SCOTUS and they'll outnumber the “dead constitutionalists.”


πŸ’¬ Many sayings are hard to interpret. Here are two examples.

πŸ’¬ “One thing about being successful is that I stopped being afraid of dying. Once you’re a star, you’re dead already. You’re embalmed.” --Dustin Hoffman.

πŸ’¬ One unsatisfactory interpretation is the “John Wayne interpretation”: once you’re a star, you get typecast, and it’s like being embalmed. That’s probably not only a bad interpretation of the saying, it’s demonstrably false: Meryl Streep.

πŸ’¬ Here’s the other difficult saying: “Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand.” --Guinean proverb. Obviously, it means knowledge is inferior to wisdom in some way. But how? “A without B is like C plus D”? Puzzlement.

πŸ’¬ Reminds me of the French saying, “Dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin)

πŸ’¬ Many allegedly African sayings befuddle me. Some I get, like “Never compete with the elephant in defecating” (Kenya).

πŸ’¬ But what to make of “Never climb from a lower branch to a higher”? Know thyself? The higher you climb, the farther you fall? Higher branches are less sturdy than lower, so keep safe, y’all? Beware ambition, Macbeth, those witches haven’t your best interests at heart? You don’t have to go looking for Coyote, because Coyote is always waiting? The higher you climb, the more you will see, and what you see will drive you mad?


πŸ’¬ This is a couple of years old and does not reflect Brexit:


If the following is the sort of thing that excites you, it will surely excite you: "New Yale-developed device lengthens the life of quantum information." Weren't we just saying how nice it would be if our quantum information only had a longer shelf life?

Potrzebie, y'all!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lizzie Caplan has two other better closer doppelgangers: Maggie Siff and Krysten Ritter. That is all. Carry on, Colonel.