Welcome to 2016! I thought I would start off this years blog's with an "I told you so" by way of yet another rant on Amairikuhn edgykayshun, and by way of an article shared by Mr. W.M. When I saw it, and saw the picture, my reaction was emotionally ambiguous, to say the least. One part of me wanted to laugh hysterically; one part wanted to cry, one part was angry, and one part wanted to gloat and say "I told you so!" I rather suspect that when you read this article, you will probably have similar reactions:
Now that you're done laughing and shaking your head, it's difficult to know where to begin with all the labyrinthine stupidity in evidence here. But a quotation from the article will suffice to ramp up the rant of the day:
The craziest part isn’t that 23-year-old Mary Lambright drove her 30-ton truck onto this tiny bridge in Paoli, Indiana built in 1880. It’s that she knew that the bridge’s weight limit was six tons. She just didn’t know how many pounds that was.
Seriously, that’s what she told the police after the crash on Christmas, as they note in their report:
Ms. Lambright was aware of the iron bridge stating she had driven on it several times in her personal vehicle and was also aware of the posted signage “no semis, weight limit of 6 tons”. When asked by Paoli Police why she continued through the bridge knowing the weight limit was only 6 tons she admitted to not knowing how many pounds that was. She was advised the weight of the vehicle at the time of the crash was close to 30 tons.
Lambright, who got her CDL earlier this year, said she wasn’t comfortable backing up her Volvo truck, so she just chanced it on the bridge.
Ok, so, number one, we have a licensed truck driver who was afraid to back up her semi, which raises all sorts of questions of its own. The last time I looked, most trucking companies hired drivers who knew how to back up a semi. After all, one has to back them into warehouses, loading docks, dead end streets, and so on. So what happened here? Did a "human resources" officer simply rubber stamp a hire based on CDL certification? If so, it raises all sorts of nasty questions about our (declining) corporate (and corporatized) culture. More than that, it raises all sorts of nasty questions about how someone might have obtained a license to drive said semi-trucks from any state. Again, the last time I looked, states usually require rather rigorous actual behind-the-wheel driving tests before certifying drivers. So what happened here? If one is uncomfortable backing up a semi truck, why would one want to drive one in the first place?
But beyond whatever failures may have occurred during the licensing or hiring process, what really disturbs here is the implications for Amairkuhn edgykayshun. Was the driver of said bridge-collapsing truck unaware of her truck's weight in tons, only pounds? And why on earth wouldn't an individual, clearly a graduate of some sort from the Amairikuhn edgykayshunal "process" not know how to convert 1 ton to 2,000 pounds? It's that failure here that intrigues me, and distresses me the most. And what about the warning sign that clearly stated "no semis"?
Well, clearly, converting pounds into tons and tons into pounds doesn't matter much any more for graduates of the Amairikuhn edgykayshunal system. According to the Doctors of Edubabble, the principals with their latest certifications in Edufaddery and Pedagogiblither, what really matters isn't accuracy or getting the "correct answer". Correctness is so passe, so middle class, so "white patriarchal male conservative Christian" (enter your favorite hate group here). What matters most is that we have a self-affirming process along the way, that we feel good about ourselves and learn to sympathize with other cultures, even though we want to be truck drivers without having to back up our semis because we're uncomfortable with that, even though it might result in the minor inconvenience of a loss of a bridge. It makes as much sense as hiring semi-drivers with left-handism, i.e., a fear of turning left. "At least you tried to drive your truck on the latest classroom computer simulator, provided courtesy of the local tax payer and some large corporation reaping profits at his or her expense, and that's good. You get an "A"; you get to graduate and get your license." Effort trumps achievement.
And that's the rub, for in modern narcissistic psychopathic Amairikuh and its irrational edgykayshunal system, the relationship between effort and achievement has been perverted if not severed altogether. Effort exists to achieve something, and there can be no achievement without effort. But effort on its own, without proper and correct achievement, and if recognized and rewarded merely for its own sake, only results in indulgence of incompetence in or the lack of achievement. Our society was not built on effort; it was built on effort that achieved something; it was built not on incompetence, but on competence.
So, permit me to gloat a bit. I certainly have not been alone in my criticisms of Amairikuhn edgykayshun and the galloping narcissistic culture of entitlement that it has fostered. Nor have I been alone in predicting that as the system becomes nuttier and more loony with each passing day, its failures will come home to roost in self evident failures that will have physical - and ultimately life-endangering - consequences. As long as you feel good about yourself and can "sort of" approximate a "correct answer", do what you want to do and what you're "comfortable with," regardless of the consequences to others or any wider community or professional standards. And when enough such people start becoming semi-truck drivers, airline mechanics, elevator repairmen - .... er... oops, I meant elevator service maintenance experts (we MUST be gender neutral, at least, in this context) - pilots, railroad engineers, or neurosurgeons, or lawyers (imagine feeling uncomfortable learning the rules of evidence or courtroom procedure), and when enough bridges have collapsed because enough truck drivers don't know how many pounds make a ton, or patients die on the operating table because someone was "uncomfortable around blood and thus never learned blood types".. well, you get the picture. This incident is an "I told you so," but it won't be the last one. "You gave the patient fifty litres of morphine for a simple outpatient procedure?" "I'm sorry, doctor, I was never very good with all that cc's and litres stuff. But at least Mrs. X died with a smile on her face. She felt good about herself. And I feel comfortable with that." Et cetera ad nauseum.
Like the bridge in Indiana, society may collapse under a weight of stupidity, because implicit in any sanely organized society is a "weight limit", a "critical mass," of just how much stupidity it can bear and carry before "sensitivity and being comfortable with stupidity" overwhelm it.
See you on the flip side...