Fresh Start

It’s time for a fresh start.

I recently viewed an intriguing discussion among three self-identified Geeks (indeed, their show is called The Geekbits Podcast). I recommend you watch it as well.

I took away two big things:

  1. In certain situations, people starting from a clean sheet have a structural advantage compared to people having to work with legacy structures. The fact that what we now might call “legacy” automakers have so much experience and capability building ICE (internal combustion engine) automobiles is not helping them break into EVs nearly as much as one might think.
  2. People will use their money to lie to you, in order to protect said money.

I know most people think #2 is an utterly obvious realization, but I just somehow thought that outright lies (in this case about EVs, but of course this applies to even more consequential things) were beyond the pale. Yet doctors who took oaths once took money to proclaim that smoking wasn’t really that bad for you, and the petroleum industry nearly killed Clair Camreon Patterson(‘s career) after he discovered the pervasiveness of lead in the air on the way to calculating how old the Earth is. I wonder if Eratosthenes had to fight against similar vested interests.

Luckily, the vested interests do not have a monopoly on communication and expression – yet – and God help us if they get it. If this were to happen, our only hope would be to exploit the divisions between various interests.

It is difficult with these evil folk to know when they are in league, and when they are cheating one another.

Aragorn, The Lord of the Rings, Book III, Chapter 9, “Flotsam and Jetsam”

That Tweet made me laugh out loud. Even the corrupt cannot always buy off the corrupt. By the way, if you’re in a corrupt country and someone official asks you if you were asked for / paid bribes, deny everything, because otherwise you will be the target of official retribution. See Paul Lutus’ account of sailing through the Suez Canal circa 1988-1991:

With one exception, every person having an official position in Egypt asked to be bribed, for which the term is “Baksheesh.” No one knows the price of anything until they have been paid off, then the price is higher. If you refuse to pay, things disappear from your boat.

The first of the two pilots I was required to have on my boat to transit the canal spent his time yelling at me in Arabic and demanding more money. The second, who I call the “gentleman thief,” spent most of his time asking for more money, or videotapes, or alcohol, or sex magazines. If you are a single hander it is more difficult, because then you must steer the boat while the pilot plunders it.

The one exception I mentioned was a uniformed officer responsible for seeing me out of the Port Said entrance and into the Mediterranean. The second of the two regular canal pilots had just debarked with his bag of booty, mostly groceries he felt justified in taking. Then the official came on board, informed me that bribery was a criminal offense, and asked me whether anyone had asked me for anything during my stay in Egypt. I would have laughed at him, but this might have greatly complicated my departure. I could have told him of every demand for payment, but this would surely have taken a huge amount of time, since I had been in Egypt 18 days and had been approached at least once a day by someone with his hand out. Besides, I had paid nearly every official who demanded payment, just to protect my boat and hasten my departure, so didn’t that make me a criminal also?

Then the official departed and I was free to sail out of Port Said. About five minutes later a steel boat came alongside and a very raggedy crew tried to make me believe they had some further official duties to perform. I told them to stand off, since by this time I was offshore and the water was too rough for close maneuvers. So they asked a bunch of questions, all of which had been asked by a dozen other people, then the most motley of them held out his hand and said “Do you have a gift for me?”

It reminds me of how, when I was a kid in school getting picked on, I would be the one who got in trouble for retaliating. If the tormentor is quiet but the victim is disruptive, the victim is actually the problem, at least in the present, short-term sense. And you know, that mindset is one that’s hard to escape from. Nothing moves people so effectively as immediate necessity.

Anyway, I am now in a position where I will soon again be unemployed and broke and therefore free once again to write whatever the heck I want. But I’m going to do things a little differently. I’m going to try my darndest to focus on things that we all can agree on, or at least things that don’t require too many unshared assumptions that I don’t leave breadcrumbs for. Pithy strident statements just serve to preach to the choir and infuriate those with other ideas. And I certainly don’t have a monopoly on correctness, so your having ideas that differ from mine is certainly understandable.

I’m just finishing having held down the same full-time job – in a town that is virtually the only developed spot on the Northern British Columbian coast – for almost four years. For me, this is a lot – my previous longest tenure was as a teaching intern at a private bilingual grade school in Japan, which took about the entire 2008 calendar year. As jobs go, the one I’ve just left is the best one I’ve ever had.

But I’m packing up to go home, and the number one reason is that it doesn’t make financial sense (for me) to live here anymore. Perhaps I like going home (to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) when I can too much to save up for a down payment, and the unit I was renting for $1,200 a month just sold for $250,000. I was offered a comparable unit for $1,750. That’s more than an entire take-home paycheck and that arrangement could possibly ensure that I don’t go home again for a very long time indeed.

So I’ll be doing what every good 40-something Millennial must – move back in with Mom. Stay tuned for updates.

1 comment

  1. As a 30-something millennial who couldn’t afford to stay in PR I get it. Good luck on your journey, Will!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *