The Explanation for a Lot of Our Problems...

Familiars know that I like gardening. I’ve wanted to plant a section of espalier fruit trees in a troublesome section of the postage stamp that constitutes my urban landscape for a long time. The plan was simple - anchor each of three espalier trees to a simple lattice made from two capped cedar posts painted to match the house with steel wire strung between to hold one of three branches on either side of the tree’s trunk. Other than the fact that the ground in that area is harder than diamond and I had to dig up to 4 feet with a hand post hole digger, no problem.

The area in question is on a complex slope so making the posts look right and be even at the top was a bit of a sticky wicket. And that was before all my help arrived. I use this label generously to describe all the people who showed up to tell me what I was doing wrong without solicitation.

One of the burdens I have is that being a surgeon I can be a bit of a perfectionist - not a bad thing in your surgeon by the way. I fussed with those poles for some time to ensure that they were level in all planes and that the tops of each pair was exactly level with each other before I fixed the posts. I admit that the ground created an optical illusion before the trees were planted that made them look tilty. I even re-plumbed them once just to be sure. But being quite confident in the basic reliability of a level bubble I set out to fix the posts. Firstly my beloved Mrs Pliny came out and told me the posts were crooked. I begged to differ and tried to assure her that they were plumb. She insisted on seeing for herself - several times. Finally convinced she still said it looked wrong. Nevertheless, being a rational being (other than that one crazy albeit fortunate impulse 18 years ago to marry ole Pliny) she let it drop. Not the neighbors however. They came over and all proceeded to tell me the posts were crooked. I had each watch as I re-leveled each plane on the posts proving that indeed the bubble was centered in all planes. They still weren’t convinced. One guy kept insisting that it was crooked. I said, “What are you going to believe, your eyes or gravity?” He chose his eyes.

One guy had a transit. He shot the posts with respect to the lines of my house and proved that it was spot on. Still not all were convinced. When the things were done (having escaped the possibility that my head might explode), people liked them even if they aren’t convinced by levels, measurements, surveys and simple math.

And we wonder why evolution is such a hard sell...


pboyfloyd said...

What to say, what to say?

I agree?


I agree!

Jared said...

I find it quite curious that even people that accept evolution do not understand all of its implications (like the lack of a "first" of any given species). Similarly, people may think levels are reliable, but trust their eyes more (even though optical illusions are a well established fact). Additionally, people will give more credit to eyewitnesses than I would suggested since it has been demonstrated an occupied mind will often misidentify or miss many things.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

The 'first problem' is also one of the bastions of creationism. People think it's like a light switch then complain that we can't see evolution. Most don't understand that speciation is a process more than an event. One easier to identify in retrospect.i

mac said...

A few years ago, I was working for a construction company in Florida.
My company had contracted to do a lot of work on a large beach house. The frame of the house was a monolithic concrete pour (all one piece), to include the garage/guest house.

I was tasked to build a soffit to cover where the plumbing and elitrical exited the main house and entered the guest house. I lay beneath the second story patio, again, solid concrete.

I built the darned thing perfectly, covered it, and made it ready to stucco to match the rest of the structure.

So I thought. The Canadian foreman showed up three hours later, yelling at me, "How could you be so stoopeed, you?"
I asked him to show me how I had messed up. He angrily climbed the scaffold put my level on it...it was as level as could be. "Your level is JUNK, you" He got his level, checked and had the same results.

To end my way too long story, it turns out that the concrete cieling was so far off that my plumb, level chase APPEARED to be out of whack. The human eye can play tricks on us.

And, no. He never admtted I was right. He just made me change my good work to match the shoddy work that preceeded me.

Michael Lockridge said...

I had the opportunity to watch the assembly of a large fence at the jail where I worked. The layout was done, marked and a lot of strings and flags put out. Holes were dug on the marks, and posts planted and made plumb. They were of various heights. Eventually a team arrived and ran a line along the posts, marking the proper height. A man with a hand-held band saw (I had never seen one before) came along and cut off the tops. Everything else was mounted, secured, and we had a fence.

This, of course, was a government fence. The facility commander had put in for a full perimeter fence. The administration deemed it too expensive for a low-security facility, but authorized this fence around our parking lot.

The commander was no fool, and accepted the fence. It encompasses our parking lot, except for an area twenty feet across. So, we got a costly fence that secures nothing.

Canadian foremen have nothing on us.

Saint Brian the Godless said...

I don't get why stupid is so in fashion lately. To me it seems to be related to how we govern and how we worship. The right wing intentionally dumbs us down enough to believe that they're not raving lunatics, and the religion dumbs us down enough to accept the ridiculous and ask for seconds, please. Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are NOT run out of the country on rails as they should be, and Rush Limbaugh is NOT ignored as the bloviating whale that he is... Stupid is on the rise, not on the ebb. It will get worse before it gets better, if it even ever does. Apparently we ned to see the right get back into power again and this time finish the job of making us into a third-world banana republic before we smarten up enough to not let these morons run things ever again. The Obama government is actually doing most of what they promised, and even the jobs numbers seem promising lately, and all indicators seem to say that the economy is rebounding, and yet we're just too fucking stupid to care about actual results when the rhetoric from the right is so much more interesting and so much better at riling people up.

We deserve what we get. I can only hope that it won't kill us as a nation this time. More than half the country is in FAVOR of the arizona papers-please law, and Sarah Palin is seen as intelligent and even a genius by many people, when she couldn't even name a magazine that she reads when asked.

I don't see good things coming. Quite the opposite in fact. Beliefs trump facts, emotions trump logic, religion trumps science... and the republicans are still playing their games with the country, and the people don't see it or don't even care.

What kind of a country will be left for my son to live in?

I'm starting to think that the USA is a shithole. I've always loved my country, but it's hard now to love a place where teh worst kind of lowbrow idiocy is revered and genuine intellect is made fun of as effete and condescending somehow. I don't want him to live in Dumbfuckistan, but that's where we're heading.