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Panama

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012

Dave!Some people are smarter than others... whether it's genetics, environment, conditioning, education, or whatever. That's just the way it is, which means that some people don't have the brain-power that others do. And, just like other traits that are intrinsic to a person, you can't really fault people for something outside their control. So long as they're trying their best with what smarts they have, they're doing right by themselves and their society. That being said, I deplore it when people of limited intelligence are called "stupid." That they lack the ability to understand something simply means that it's outside their skills,... they don't deserve derogative labels because of it.

The same cannot be said for ignorance.

If you are smart enough to speak about a subject, you are smart enough to make sure that you have your facts straight.

But, even more importantly, you have to be smart enough to accept when you are wrong... and be ashamed enough over being wrong that you to try not to be wrong again.

Alas, this is getting increasingly rare. Too many people are saying too much stupid crap not because they are, in fact, "stupid"... but because they're ignorant. They don't give a crap about accuracy, validity, authenticity, or truthfulness... they just talk out of their ass and don't give a flying fuck what might come of it.

That's stupidity.

Case in point: my recent trip through the Panama Canal, which went something like this...

Panama Canal Map

The ship traveled from the Caribbean into the Gatun Locks (1). After going through the locks, it anchors in Lake Gatun to let some of us off, where we take a tender to shore (2). From there, we take a bus trip to Gamboa (3). It's at Gamboa where we hop on a boat and continue our journey through the Panama Canal (4), including the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, before taking a bus to Colón where our ship is waiting for us to continue to Costa Rica (6).

It was while waiting to go through these locks that a guy from a group of people next to me started going off on an ego trip. He was great. He was a successful businessman. He was going to continue to be a successful businessman because his customers were forced to deal with him and him only. Nobody is as smart as he is. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I tried to ignore him, but then he piped up with this little gem to thrill his audience with how smart he is: "We have to go through all these locks because the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are different heights."

What I should have done was mind my own business and stay silent. But, I think we all know that's not what happened. Instead I explained that the oceans are at the same height... which we call SEA LEVEL, and the reason we go through the locks is because Panama is not flat. Gatun Lake is 85 feet above sea level, so we climb locks up to it... sail across... then descend locks back to the ocean. Like this...

Panama Canal Elevation

Now, it's pretty apparent that I know what I'm talking about here. The land we're sailing through is obviously not flat... just look around. And the concept of "sea level" is pretty basic knowledge that just about everybody has at least heard of before. So there shouldn't have been any room for debate, right?

Of course not. This is where that ignorance problem comes in. Not wanting to look "stupid" in front of his friends, he decided to pitch me some shit instead.

"HA HA HA! YOU'RE WRONG. IF THE OCEANS ARE THE SAME LEVEL, THEN WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST CUT A PATH BETWEEN THEM? WHY ARE WE GOING UP AND DOWN, HUH? YOU'RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE."

I didn't feel like trying to explain the insanity of blasting a channel 51 miles long so you could remove up to 85-feet of earth... so I said the same thing I always say in situations like this... "Uhhh...yeah. You might want to fact-check that when you have a chance."

Which, when I'm proven correct, will make him look ten times more idiotic than if had he just accepted that he didn't know what he was talking about, had no facts to back-up his outrageous bullshit, and should be smart enough to accept when he's wrong.

But some people are just too damn stupid to do something about their ignorance, so the rest of us have to put up with their dumbassery (and any consequences that come out of it).

And I'm getting really sick of it.

But not half as sick as I am of politicians manipulating ignorant citizens with their outrageous bullshit (either through lies or their own ignorance). And, before anybody starts going all partisan, this is a serious problem on both sides of the political spectrum...as one can easily ascertain at PolitiFact.

Now, I'd hardly say that PolitiFact is a bastion of impartial scrutiny when it comes to the "facts" they investigate. Republican candidates tend to get only their more outrageous statements investigated, while Democrat candidates seem to get equal attention paid to all their statements ( thoughprobably the opposite is true when there's a Republican in The White House). But, party affiliation aside, you can still gleen an interesting picture when analyzing the data. For each of our candidates I attributed +2 points for every "true"... +1 point for "mostly true"... 0 points for "half true"... -1 point for "mostly false"... -2 points for "false"... and -3 points for "pants on fire." This means a perfect score would be 2x the number of statements investigated. I then added a "truthiness" rating which divides their actual score by their perfect score. Here's how that shakes out (click on a name to see their page)...

CandidatePerfect
Score
Actual
Score
Truthiness
Rating
GINGRICH122-51-42
SANTORUM90-28-31
ROMNEY246-28-12
PAUL72-3-4
OBAMA7168712

Remember, this can hardly be considered an impartial comparison because PolitiFact can't possibly investigate every single statement made (they certainly make mistakes as well). And, even if it was perfect and impartial, don't be getting all excited about President Obama's apparent victory in truthiness. 12 out of 100 points is still complete crap. The bigger picture here is that all our politicians are full of shit. Which everybody already knows. No big surprise there. We've pretty much come to expect it, right?

And I'm getting really sick of it.

Ignorant and/or dishonest politicians are shoveling bullshit and telling lies all the time. And the populace at large doesn't seem to care unless it's a candidate they don't like. And even then, it's hardly outrage if you turn the other cheek when it's a candidate you DO like whose doing the lying.

I don't get outraged anymore. I just can't sustain the non-stop 24/7 anger that would require.

But I do get embarrassed by the complete lack of shame that all these asshole politicians have for propagating ignorance... whether intentional or not. I no more understand how we allowed things to get to this point than I understand how somebody can deny sea level.

Apparently ignorance truly is bliss, and everybody is just too happy to be ashamed.

Or to care.

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Categories: News - Politics 2012Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. the muskrat says:

    I probably would have sat quietly and tweeted about the blowhard’s telling everyone about the different levels of the oceans, but I’m not very confrontational with strangers. I’m glad you spoke up!

  2. Alexander says:

    Thank you for so succinctly expressing what I’ve been feeling for years. “Teh st00pid [meaning ignorance], it BURNS!”

  3. Ren says:

    I won’t mention tidal variation. Oh, wait….

    I’m somewhat disappointed to see that your excursion to complete the transit skipped most of Gatun Lake; I think I’d feel cheated.

    Not sure why Paul’s Truthiness Rating got a free boost from -4.

    • Dave2 says:

      The tidal variation across a mere 51 miles is pretty much negligible. :-)

      Ooh! Yes. Fixed. Rounding setting on my calculator buggered the .0042 to zero. Sweet! I guess that’s all of them. :-D

      • Ren says:

        You would think that the tidal variation would be small, but apparently the Caribbean Sea provides so much shelter that the Atlantic side has very little tidal variation while the Pacific side gets a full complement. The actual sea levels can vary by as much as 12 feet. Even the average levels are different by 9 inches (though I’m pretty sure that’s the difference of the averages rather than the average of the differences — intuition doesn’t immediately tell me which is likely to be larger, if either).

        There’s a pretty good write-up of why this is the case and a bunch of good information about tides in general at http://www.czbrats.com/Articles/oceans.htm, though it’s poor font and terrible background color are the best reasons I’ve found for Safari’s Reader feature!

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