Friday, September 28, 2007

The Return of a Dirty Word

The word for today is Responsibility.

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: re·spon·si·bil·i·ty
Pronunciation: ri-"spän(t)-s&-'bi-l&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
1 : the quality or state of being responsible : as a : moral, legal, or mental accountability
One of the greatest pastimes in the world today is to stick others with it so that you don't have to. We have a real peach of an example in the car crash in Gary, Indiana. There is definitely some stink on this story for the police over the sloppy handling of the scene. But that does
not let the driver, Darius Moore, off the hook for his part of the event.

Too bad that he doesn't seem to agree.
"I'm angry at police because I thought they could have found my friends, and they probably would be alive today if [police] had just done their job," he said.
And here's the real winner:
"A lot of people tell me that it wasn't my fault, that there was nothing that I could do," said Moore, a senior at Gary's West Side High School. "I realize that it wasn't my fault, but sometimes I feel like it was -- it really wasn't -- but it's just how I feel sometimes."
Let us look at that first quote. "Probably would be alive." Aside from flat denying what the coroner reported that the injuries would have been fatal instantly, there is still the fundamental conditional in effect. "Probably would be alive" applies just as well to making sure your passengers were wearing their seatbelts (something that the passengers should have taken on themselves).

More to the point "Certainly would be alive" would apply if young Mr. Moore had not been drinking. The violence applied to the guardrail in one of the photos at CNN certainly doesn't look like 40 MPH after several rolls. Either alcohol impaired his ability to react to a 40 MPH blowout, or he was going the 80 MPH earlier reports indicated.

At the very least, Darius' friends put their lives in his hands when they got in his car. If he had shown more care, they would not have had their fates rest in the hands of sloppy cops in the first place.

As for the second quote , there might not have been anything he could have done after the accident, but there was plenty he should and shouldn't have done before.

Update: Speaking of responsibility, I neglected mine to link to Venomous Kate's Bite Me before sending my trackback . I apologize for the discourtesy and dread the thought that the bite will be harder than I can handle.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Did Tim Taylor Kill the Do-it-Yourselfer?

Let’s take as our starting point the Popular Mechanics article by Glenn Reynolds about the decline of manual skills in society. He ends the article with point that I had to admit came very close to the mark personally:

Most people can do more than they think they can, and it’s often fear of failure as much as lack of skill that keeps people from tackling hands-on tasks.

Speaking from experience, I know how easy it is to fall into the mindset of better to do nothing than do something wrong. Been there, done that, would have bought the T-Shirt but wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do.

Fortunately I have a job that allows me to start with the engineering I went to school for and expand my more manual skills in the course of setting up tests. Confidence in a great thing, I recommend it for everyone.

And there lies the rub. Many people fear being caught out in false confidence. The show “Home Improvement” rested entirely on the premise of the Do-it-Yourselfer who is totally clueless despite his self-professed competence. After that, a leaky faucet suddenly looks like a chance to be branded as a Doofus Dad for the rest of one’s life.

One other factor that plays into to hesitancy to practice manual skills is that when you make or repair something, you take the responsibility that you have done it right. Responsibility is a dirty word the days. I think that many people find a sort of comfort in the thought that if something goes wrong when someone else does it they can sue. That safety net is gone when you do it yourself. The cynic in me is waiting for the first lawsuit to come from someone botching a home repair after taking one of those classes at Home Depot.

And to end this post on a barely related thought: Who does the repairs at John Edwards’s estate? You would think that a contractor would have to be insane to risk the liability repairing any trial lawyer’s home.

Update: Greetings to all of you coming from Instapundit. I would invite you all to take a long look around, but this site is just now coming off hiatus.

Friday, September 07, 2007

What a Man Wants: Wedding Edition

Hey all,

Long time no write I know but I have been tied up figuratively for more than a couple of weeks.

What brings me out of hibernation is this post at Electric Venom about the perception of men that women want them to be able to read their minds. Like every guy, I have felt that way at one point or another. I'm not going to go there right now, but I would like to talk about how a guy, namely me would rather go about planning his wedding.

I am not going to say "Not at all". I can tough it out because it means a lot to Trish and I would like to have stuff that I like there as well. The big thing that gets to me is all of the small things that I really don't think of as important to me (such as centerpieces or favors) that she insists on having my input in. The moment I say, "OK, I like this one," she says, "Oh."

You guys know the tone that she uses. The one that says that this is not really a wedding favor catalog but a Cosmo quiz and your selection has just put you in the category of "Call animal control immediately" .

Suddenly, you get this feeling in your gut that your whole relationship is going down the drain because your incompatibility over place holder cards indicates a deeper rift. Let me tell you something ladies, few things make a guy uncomfortable like being judged on his taste.

I suggested the fix of going like this: Trish can look through magazines and catalogs to her heart's content. Once she feels like she has found her four or five favorites, she can come to me for my opinion of what I like best. Simple and to the point.

Because this is my nightmare scenario: I find something I really like, and she finds something that she really wants, and we fight about it. Or more insidiously, I don't fight and tell her to go with what she wants. Then she might come back with that she doesn't want me to only like it because she wants it. That way lies madness.

Like I said before, I really don't care about these incidentals, especially not enough to fight over them. She knows that my only request to her for our wedding day, the one irreducible thing that I must insist upon, is "Be there."