In your cage at the human zoo,
They all stop to look at you.
–Styx, circa 1977
Someone mentioned Styx the other day. I apologize but I can’t stop the references now.
This post is brought to you by the letter “Z,” the omega of the alphabet experience. Just like the human race, all good things must come to an end, so must the A-Z Blogger Challenge.
My idea for this post was “zoo.” I didn’t even bother going to the Google to find some obscure reference that might make me look smarter than that. Not this time.
But I wanted my own special spin on it. Fortunately someone mentioned Styx lately and, well, it just came together. Humans in a cage at the zoo; a human zoo. Now that’s an idea I can work with!
As the author of Society of Assholes I have done some limited research in this area. Before we begin, there is one important distinction to be made. I now excerpt from the book:
You might correctly be asking by now, “What the fuck? What about murderers, rapists, child molesters and such? Why don’t you call them assholes, too?” That’s a good point. However, for the purposes of this book, such extreme (and obvious) examples are beyond the pale. Those people are indeed true “assholes” and destined for a special level of Hell (I wish), but the purpose of this book is a bit more subtle. It seeks to explore the asshole within each and every one of us. The asshole that expresses itself from the typical and average individual within the larger context of every day society. That is the asshole we will be seeking.
With that in mind, it’s time to begin our tour of the zoo. We’re all too fat and out of shape to walk these hills under our own steam, so climb aboard this tram and we’ll be on our way. Please remain seated at all times, keep your head, arms and legs within the tram, and no flash flash photography.
Genus – Addictus Parentus
In our first exhibit we see a typical modern family. A husband, a wife, and two children, a boy and a girl. As you can see, the parents are smoking away furiously on their cigarettes. This is an important mechanism for passing destructive behavior from one generation to the next. This parental genome lacks the ability to evaluate long-term risk and there is a very high probability the addiction will be picked up by the children, who typically ape what they know and see.
I actually had the good fortune to spot addictus parentus in their natural habit just the other day. We were at a restaurant enjoying some dinner. At a table nearby was a family of four. They fit the profile but I had not yet made the species identification. If you are patient, though, field research can often be rewarding. The adults, both at the same time, got up and left the restaurant.
This was a curious development and it got my attention. Leaving the children alone in a restaurant is somewhat rare these days. I crept up to the front window, making use of plastic plants for cover, and observed my quarry. Of course! They were outside smoking.
Luckily I was carrying my logbook and successfully documented the sighting.
The Masculinity Experience
Welcome to our newest exhibit, sponsored by Ford Trucks that are built Ram tough and solid as a rock from heartland America. (Free truck nuts with every purchase.) Yes, it’s The Masculinity Experience featuring our prize specimen, Mike Rowe.
You all know Rowe from shows like Dirty Jobs and Ford commercials. That’s why we have these little infopoints mounted on each exhibit. For example, did you know Rowe started as an opera singer and was known for his arias? And that he then moved on to being an on-air host for the shopping channel QVC?
Arias and shopping!!!
Even in light of those facts, amazing the masculinity of this specimen is above reproach. Testing has confirmed that his testosterone is taking steroids.
I had more planned for the tour but we’re out of time. Maybe we’ll continue the tour later. That’s all, folks!
This is my “Z” post for the A-Z Blogger Challenge.
You call that mileage?
While watching the Super Bowl the other day, I caught a couple of car commercials bragging about fuel economy in the 40 mpg range. One of them was the 2011 Hyundai Elantra that claims to get 40 miles per gallon.
40 mpg? That’s it? This supposed to be what is considered good?
That got me thinking. I decided to build a graph.
First, where we were. The initial point on the graph. I picked the Ford Model T. Says Wikipedia: “According to Ford Motor Company, the Model T had fuel economy on the order of 13 to 21 mpg.”
To keep the graph fair, I used the lower value of 13 mpg. This will make the improvement over time that much more dramatic.
I then made a linear line showing the increase in MPG over time between those two points. The 13 mpg of 1908 and the approx. 40 mpg of 2008.
In other words, in about 90 years we’ve gone from 13 mpg to about 40 mpg. Think about that. With all of the advances in technology in the 20th century, that’s all we could do? Wow!
Of course, using only two data points leaves out a lot of interesting activity in between. Here’s a graph that shows detail activity from the 70’s to present day:
Source: PewFuelEfficiency.org (PDF)
This graph shows a nice increase across the board between 1975 and 1987 or so. Of course, you have to notice that in 1975 the average fuel economy was only about 15 mpg. What the hell?
So yeah, the pricing crisis in the early 1970’s prompted that increase in fuel economy. But then look what happens. We get complacent. We have a short memory. For over 20 years fuel economy has remained as flat as a pancake. And that’s just pathetic.
Oil is a finite resource. Put simply, if we could double fuel economy we’d use half as much. (In theory. Of course, if that happened demand would go up, so it wouldn’t be quite that simple.) Even so, fuel economy is probably the single most important lever we could move at this moment in time – if we had the collective will to care.
I’m amazed that car commercials can tout 40 mpg as some sort of achievement when really it is nothing more than a pathetic reminder of how little we’ve done.