Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | January 2, 2011

Interstate Driving: The Metaphor

So there I was, driving east down I-40 in Arizona with a song in my heart and someone’s headlights in my rearview mirror.  It was way past sunset; the headlights were the biggest thing in my visual environment.  I was happy at the 75-mph speed limit – using an acceptable amount of that increasingly expensive gasoline – and had no interest in going faster, so my hope was that Mr. or Ms. Headlights would go ahead and pass me already.  The headlights slowly – very slowly – migrated from the inside rearview mirror to the driver’s-side mirror outside the window.  And by that point I realized:  this was a driver who had found his life’s calling (it turned out to be a he.  Pa and Ma were out for a trip somewhere).  He was going to hang out on my port quarter until a tornadic gust of wind, an earthquake, or the coming of the Apocalypse nudged his headlights past me and into the dark void ahead.

It seemed he wanted to go 76 miles an hour (and probably had the cruise control set to that speed).  This stretch of I-40 is conducive to such exact, finicking driving principles.  On busier stretches of highway there is no settling in at a carefully calibrated speed.  There is only accepting life behind the 18-wheelers and the towering RVs and U-Haul vans, or going whatever speed you have to, to get past all the endless clumps of low-attention drivers. But on I-40 in eastern Arizona, in the pitch dark of a December night, there are few other vehicles on the road.  Drivers have greater latitude to exhibit character traits.  There are more possible settings than “terrified and shaking at 55 mph” and “ranging with alert determination between 65 and 85.”

One of those settings is “I’ll pass this car when I pass it but I’m not speeding up.  Not even by 2-3 mph.”  I have to admit, that setting is alien to me.  When driving under these (or most other) conditions, I prefer to pass expeditiously, speeding up if I have to, and then settle back to my base speed.  When there is a little more traffic, you box another driver in by taking a long time to pass him.  You may force him to brake behind a slower vehicle, which frankly is just rude.  If you’re passing, get on past the vehicles in the right lane.  And if you’re just in the left lane because you feel like being there for a while, well, get out of it, drop your speed as necessary to stay out of it, and enjoy life.  It’s better and safer for everyone.

This was not Mr. Headlights’ philosophy, however.  He was fully prepared to take a very long time to pass whatever vehicle was in the right lane.  He simply stayed in the left lane, positioned precisely to create the biggest possible headlight glare in my driver’s-side mirror, as his front end inched closer to my left rear bumper.  This was not a matter of minutes.  It was a matter of tens of minutes – and several slower drivers.  As each set of rear lights hove into view in front of me, I waited to see if Mr. Headlights would have any luck passing me before I’d have to slow down.  When he couldn’t manage it, I pulled out into the left lane in front of him to pass the slower driver.  This happened four times before Headlights finally managed to pull up beside me on the left.

At this point, reader, you will have discerned that I could have made other choices.  I could have sped up for a while and pulled away from Mr. Headlights.  I could have slowed to 70 for a bit and let him get a good distance ahead of me.  But I didn’t.  Both of us drivers wanted to go about the same speed; we just had significantly different approaches to driving.  Mine made sense to me.  I’m sure his makes sense to him.  To me, it’s better to pay attention to the effect your mode of operation is having on other drivers, and adjust as you go along to minimize annoyance for all.

That, at least, is what I perceive to be happening.  I never mind when someone passes me if he goes ahead and gets the job done.  Some drivers are extremely irritated by others who go very fast; I tend to think only that this is one driver I’ll never have to see again, unless it’s by the side of the road with a highway patrolman behind him.  That’s fine by me.  Between someone who parks himself on my port quarter for 45 minutes and someone who gets past me in seconds going 90 and disappears from my life forever, I’ll take the latter every time.  Most drivers fall somewhere between these extremes anyway.

Mr. Headlights eventually managed to get around me and pull into the right lane.  His rear lights weren’t getting further from me, but they weren’t getting closer either, so that was good.  I had leisure to observe two white heads peeping above the front-seat headrests, illuminated by my headlights which now shone brightly in Mr. Headlights’ car.  I would have found the brightness irritating enough to speed up and distance myself from, but that was not the Headlight Way.  Headlights was going to go 76, no matter what.

The story isn’t over, but it’s time to pause and ask rhetorically, Isn’t driving a metaphor for life?  It neatly reflects personalities and captures many principles of human relations.  We all make rules for ourselves – and usually they are codicils to what we believe are universal principles.  But we don’t all make the same rules.  The ones we make are dependent on personality type.

I can’t imagine making it a rule to maintain one speed and one speed only, regardless of the effect that has on me and everyone else.  Mr. Headlights probably can’t imagine seeing things the way I do, with speed as a rule of thumb and a thinking aid – a base state to deviate from – and conditions being paramount in each driving situation as it emerges.  I don’t mind applying fresh thought to each new situation, mainly because that’s what I naturally do.  I really can’t imagine driving on autopilot; continuous analysis of new developments isn’t a burden, it’s what I’m alive for.  I suspect Mr. Headlights’ instincts and reflexive priorities go in a different direction.

Over time, however, one comes to understand that we all have different personalities for a reason.  The world wouldn’t operate very well if everyone were like me, just as it wouldn’t if everyone were like Mr. Headlights.  Some people are natural bureaucrats; some feel like they’re dying inside if they are constrained by rules that often seem silly and counterproductive.  These types rub against each other, but they can be useful counterweights to each other as well.  Each person has merit and a good purpose, even though his or her personality is not a universal standard to which everyone “ought” to adhere.  And the truth is, how we deal with each other is dictated by attitudes of mind and heart that are accessible to us all:  goodwill, kindness, and a positive approach are things we can all adopt, whereas the personalities of others are not.

Nor should they be.  Contrary to the twentieth-century’s social-homogenization ideology, we are not all supposed to be trying to become the same person.  We’re not all supposed to have one body type, one package of mental abilities, one philosophical focus, one kind of work, one level of income, one view of life and the universe.  This concept has been encapsulated as the “Aryan type” and as “Soviet Man,” but it has also been retailed in a different way by the Western entertainment media, whose idea of what makes a “good,” noble, or sympathetic character – outside of a martial arts movie – is too often laughably limited and pat.  We chuckle today, when in high school or college we learn about the medium of the medieval morality play, but the truth is that that’s what 98% of our video storytelling form boils down to.

It was partly from a determination to exhibit patience and goodwill that I maintained my speed around 75 – except for the emergency passing episodes – while Mr. Headlights struggled to pass me.  Hey, I didn’t want to go any faster, and I didn’t care if he passed me: I just wished he’d get it over with.  As he became comfortable in his new spot ahead of me, however, a pair of headlights behind me was getting perilously closer.  The rate of its approach was, if anything, slower than that of Mr. Headlights.  Inevitably, the new headlights established themselves in my driver’s-side mirror, and the glare was amplified with each centimeter of the car’s excruciatingly slow forward progress.  It appeared that the newcomer was also determined to go 76 mph – or, indeed, 75.5 mph.

There was a long stretch in which our little clump encountered no slower drivers.  But eventually I saw red lights on the dark horizon in front of us, and knew that my fear would be realized:  I would be trapped by the 76-mph Club while it made an extended production of inching past the slower vehicles ahead.  One Mr. Headlights I could deal with.  Two were iron bars making a cage.  It was time to invoke a different rule.

The second car had managed to get pretty close to me on the left, but there was still room to pull out in front of it; the maneuver was feasible, but a closer-run exploit than a drivers’ ed teacher would have advised.  Nevertheless, it was the right thing to do.  Feeling a little like Indiana Jones drawing his pistol on the scimitar-wielding Saracen, I pulled out into the left lane, ahead of the second car, and kicked it up to about 85.  Within a couple of minutes, the two sets of headlights were fading behind me.  I saw the second car pull in behind Mr. Headlights before the pair of them disappeared behind a hill under the starless, heavily-clouded night sky.  I maintained 80+ for about 30 minutes before settling back to 75.  As far as I know, I never saw either of them again.

Some of you, readers, may have the personality type that would have simply done this at the outset.  Others may think it’s a case of deliberately annoying yourself, to analyze and anticipate these situations and try to make them come out in some perfect way.  Hey, just take it as it comes.  Still others are proud of the 76-mph Club for not compromising its principles.  And some will instinctively understand exactly which thoughts were passing through my mind, and the preference for not acting with irritation and haste while yet being watchful for an unacceptable deterioration in the conditions.

And all of that is OK.  Even when we have decided to proceed at the same base speed – a metaphor for many aspects of life – we are still different people who approach the project differently.  Indeed, “going 75” is not even the same project for everyone – much less choosing to go 85, 65, or 50.  (Most of us at some point get over the urge to go 95, both literally and figuratively.)  By defining the terms differently, and setting our personal rules, we produce different outcomes from the project of “going 75.”  But it’s worth reflecting that if we all get to our chosen destinations, in good spirits and with our body parts and possessions altered mainly by the natural effects of aging, we really – really – don’t need to keep looking sideways and trying to adjust other people’s approaches, or imposing our rules on them.

That is exactly what prophylactic government does, however: try to homogenize all human projects, large and small, and criminalize or punish all but one way of “going 75.”  We aren’t meant to live that way.  The cost of writing our pet peeves into law – particularly into federal law – is too high.  No one’s personal rules are one-size-fits-all, and no good outcome is ever induced by criminalizing every path but one.  Writing law as if these concepts are valid is extremely destructive.  It’s on us, in our generation, to internalize that truth, and to act with a wisdom even our greatest forebears did not universally possess.

J.E. Dyer blogs at The Green Room and at Commentary’s “contentions.  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.



  1. I find that a good booktape keeps me mellow on long drives; that and my game of counting how many applications of the brake it takes me to get from point A to point B without a close call. The type of tale being told tends to influence whether I click a couple of pluses or a couple of minuses on the cruise control to distance myself from annoying loiterers.

    I once got from the turnpike entrance near Philly to that near the South side of Chicago on four brake applications (not counting toll gates and rest stops, of course).

  2. Very enjoyable…..


    ‘That is exactly what prophylactic government does, however: try to homogenize all human projects, large and small, and criminalize or punish all but one way of “going 75.” ‘

    what do mean by “prophylactic government” ?

    Is that a government that people form for a common defense?

  3. I drive the way I trade. Looking for opportunities to move ahead, so my kids get used to the lane changes when I drive them to school. However, as I have gotten older, I find there are times when I just want to relax when I drive, especially after dark when It’s harder to spot a cop.

    Prophylactic government types are the control freaks of the world, the tidy world they want. Also, they do not like uncertainty, and are self absorbed enough to reckon that they can reduce or even eliminate uncertainty.

    • Hi and thanks Zolt.

      I’m unfamiliar with the term

      • As a New Yorker you should understand prophylactic government. It’s the kind of government that protects you from the deadly threat of transfats and salt at the local restaurants while it fails to plow the snow from your street so emergency vehicles can get to you if you’re having a heart attack.

        • I get it now, Sully. When someone refers to prophylactic government here, it’s not to make an argument , it’s just a reference to something that’s defined as stupid and dangerous and inevitably evil because it’s defined as stupid and dangerous and inevitably evil because that’s the definite definition of the damned thing.

          Anybody with a good thinker on their shoulders just has to prefer a government that doesn’t ever require the surrender of any part of the citizenry’s right to unlimited liberty.

  4. I’m sure those of you who live in the Northeast are familiar with “Boston drivers.” We are known for driving rather poorly. The “poorly” is in the sense that drivers are aggressive, will cut others off and not use the turn signal. Growing up in DC, the term was “Virginia drivers.” The sterotype was that they were poor drivers, but not in the “Boston” sense. The tendency was to be sort of clueless and slow and driving with their “head in the clouds.” The Virgina poor drivers would have a very difficult time and get very anxious if driving in Boston. Boston drivers would probably be more likely to feel rage and spend about 50% of the time leaning on the horn if driving in Virginia. J.E., perhaps this is a statewide version of the anecdotal story of Opticon 75 and Headlights 76.

    “The cost of writing our pet peeves into law – particularly into federal law – is too high. No one’s personal rules are one-size-fits-all, and no good outcome is ever induced by criminalizing every path but one.”

    Did you see, a law has now passed that makes it illegal to have the volume of a commercial be louder than the program during which the commercial runs? This is a perfect example of the above line. I personally don’t like it when the ads are too loud for my preferences and would like it if the ads were the same volume as the program (or completely mute!). However, I’m appalled that legislation has passed that now requires TV stations (or TV makers?) to adhere to certain volume requirements. At what point will this type of legislation end?

  5. This was a great essay – driving metaphors are some of my favorites because it’s such a big part of our lives, at least for a lot of us in the West it is.

    I see his kind of driving as a threat and would have anticipated exactly the kind of situation that arose with the second guy. When I see a threat, I have to do something about it and just sitting there and watching it develop would have been torture for me.

    So if there are people out there all thinking they are doing 75, the ‘project’, and I can see that they really aren’t and they are doing dangerous things that threaten my safety, I have to look sideways and do something to alleviate the threat. Hmm, probably another metaphor there, but I’m too dense to explain it properly…

  6. A point about Captain Honors. I very briefly met him a few weeks ago when I toured the Big E. At the time he struck me as surprisingly personable and open in comparison to the Big E captain I served under back in the early 1970’s. I mentioned to my brother that it was impossible for me to imagine Forrest Peterson gladhanding and joking with folks the way Captain Honors did with members of our group.

    Having now seen the (edited) videos that just got him relieved I’m not at all surprised that he made them when he was XO; but I am surprised neither the then captain nor the embarked admiral never told him to tone them down. They’re not so much raunchy (again based on the edited stuff I watched) as sophomoric and silly. The Romans would have said he compromised his dignitas making and broadcasting them.

    • Deeply silly video, from what I could tell. It looks like one of those “seemed like a good idea at the time” kind of things.

      It IS uncharacteristic of carrier XOs and COs to indulge in sophomoric video production. They are always carrier aviators — and carrier aviation has a long tradition of silly skits presented in events called the “Foc’sle Follies,” routinely played as videos for the last decade — but a carrier XO’s time usually pounds all the aviator levity right out of him. The XO and CO have to run a tight ship, as the crew of 3000+ is heavy on 20-year-olds.

      Yeah, it’s surprising to me that the admiral didn’t clamp down on this. Cautionary videos like this are aired over the shipwide TV system, and are required viewing for the enlisted on the flag staff as well as for the ship’s crew and airwing. The admiral would have heard about this video from his senior enlisted advisor and/or chief of staff. It’s not in the mainsream.

      Looks to me like bad judgment by one guy. I don’t know if this had anything to do with it, but Enterprise has been scheduled for decommissioning for a long time now. They keep holding her over for another deployment because the force is overworked and its level has effectively fallen from 12 carriers 10 years ago to 9 today. Enterprise has been “fleet-reserve manned” in the last two FYDPs, meaning her status is officially NOT “constant ready” and her manning falls below constant-ready between deployments. They were still deciding when she’d be sunsetted when Honors checked in as the XO several years ago; he may not have been the hottest-running guy in the pipeline, but adequate to the task of decommissioning the ship. Then, in 2008, DOD and Congress decided to keep ENT around for at least one more deployment.

      The schedule perturbations are a big challenge. This is all speculation, but it may be fallout from ENT’s on-again/off-again readiness status and future prospects.

      • Is his career dead?

        • Yep. He won’t survive this. My guess is he’s put on a desk job long enough to be processed out. Presumably he’ll retire with his rank and go into another line of work.

          Partisans from both sides are trying to make all kinds of political hay from this situation, but the bottom line on the situation is bad judgment by Honors. There is zero value to Naval leadership in pushing the cultural envelope on your “avoid the clap” videos. Basically, any Naval officer looks at this and cringes, mentally wondering what the guy was thinking.

          The political vultures from both left and right should get over themselves. The threat of a DADT repeal didn’t make Honors do this, nor did homophobia. Lousy judgment did. It might not have ever mattered to any outcomes in combat, but it’s guaranteed to throw a bad light on Honors’ leadership. Good thing this was caught before deployment. (ENT is supposed to head for the Med this month.)

          • Oh well. Your won’t catch me having any sympathy for someone with questionable judgment and a penchant for dumb jokes, even if he probably did work his tail off for his entire adult life.

            • That’s how it is, however, for those who aspire to command the taxpayers’ weapon systems and America’s finest.

              The military’s fame for not being able to take a joke has its purposes.

            • The commanding officer of the destroyer I also served on topped out at Commander (never made the rank of full Captain) because way back in his junior office days a man was killed due to a boiler accident while he was engineering officer on another destroyer. It happened while he was responsible, so his career was blighted even though he personally could in no reasonable way have prevented it (as I read the transcript of the investigation). He was a star in every other respect, a great shiphandler and inspirational leader; and I observed him to remain literally cool under fire and make an excellent decision. As the rank pyramid narrows, promotion decisions hinge on trivial things like that in peacetime.

              Aircraft Carrier Commanding Officer is the literal top of the command at sea pyramid. He is God on that ship while in that position, with responsibility for the lives of 5,500 men and management of more firepower than all but four or five nation states. Modern communications have changed things quite a bit; but if he’s read military history, which almost all of them have, he justifiably sees himself as a modern day Collingswood, or Aubrey if he into fiction.

      • My other observation on the tour was the surprising tolerance of clutter and the slack cleanliness of the ship. Alright it was working up for deployment so there were yardbirds working about the place, and it’s an almost 30 year older ship; but I saw stuff that our CO, XO and First Lt would never have tolerated, especially with a group of ex Navy civilians coming aboard. Navy ships are way overmanned to take battle casualties and keep on fighting or at least controlling damage. One of the toughest things a Deck Department officer has to do is make sure enough general cleanup stuff and training is being assigned to keep people at least somewhat busy in port even when the Department was half staffed while on port and starboard liberty/leave sections.

        • I don’t view this as an excuse, but Enterprise actually is NOT overmanned in port. She has officially been in the fleet reserve for the last 10 years, meaning that within 30 days of returning from deployment, she loses a lot more of her crew than the other carriers do.

          There’s always some short-manning of non-deployed/non-working-up ships today, but the carrier in the fleet reserve gets by far the shortest end of that stick. I deployed on Enterprise’s fleet reserve predecessor, USS John F Kennedy, in the late 1990s, and JFK was chronically undermanned until 6 months before deployment, at which point she became merely undermanned.

          Deck takes the biggest hit in the short-manning, especially on a nuke-powered ship (which JFK, of course, was not). On a nuke, there’s a limit below which engineering/propulsion manning can’t fall. Deck absorbs a lot of the pain.

          All that said, I never found slovenliness to be characteristic of any ship in a maintenance availability. I’m inclined to agree it had something to do with leadership on ENT.

          • Obviously things have changed somewhat.

            I had 52 men in Second Division alone when we came out of the shipyard in 1970. Manning our one unrep station more or less used about 25 of them. Aside from that I would have four or five messcooking. A few more would be on lookout or bridge watch at any given time. And one or two would usually be in the brig. That was the tail end of the era of judges “advising” men to join the navy and of an insane Kennedy era program that purposely recruited troubled youths with substandard intelligence, so beyond my couple of hard cases I had a half dozen who needed constant supervision well away from anything dangerous. To provide the close supervision I had a third class BM who had failed to pass for second class several times and was going on 12 years of service.

            When I became Asst First Lt in mid 1971 we had between 210 or 215 in the Deck Department as a whole and I learned that 1st, 4th and 5th Divisions didn’t have nearly the load of problem children as 2nd and 3rd.

  7. “illegal to have the volume of a commercial be louder than the program ”

    Twenty years or more, one of the complaints most often directed to the FCC by people refusing to understand that companies are paying good money so they can jolt them and wake up anybody else in the room.

    Any idea just how “illegal” it’s gonna be?

  8. More than twenty years–people have been complaining to the FCC since 1960. And of course if someone complains a law must be passed. How about the preferences of the people who didn’t complain? For instance, those who dash into the kitchen to do a few more dishes or grab a treat, and want to know when the show is back on again?

    Luckily, during those last 50 years the remote was invented with mute buttoin, so both kinds of people could be happy. At least until this law is implemented.

    • Margo, I don’t quite go to the length of saying that a law must be passed in response to complaints. I’m not doing more than putting a little context into why both parties jumped into agreeing about this.

      To me, these nanny-staters are going too far, too fast. If people want to spend large sums of money to annoy the viewing public, and a mere couple of decades of asking them to cease and desist doesn’t deter them, an American public not whipped into a state of socialist-induced passivity would have tried other ways to thin the ranks of noise polluters.

    • As I understand it, there is a regualtion governing this situation. The volume of the ads can’t be greater than the loudest volume of the program being aired. But when the ad appears, all the sound is at the same highest permitted level, whereas the volume would modulate on the show itself. Which brings to mind something I’ve wondered about for years and maybe OC can shed some light on, in view of her long drive. Why is it that when a car speeds up, the radio volume goes down and then when it slows up the volume goes back up again? And why haven’t the engineers been able to do something about it?

      • I’m certainly not an audio engineer or anything like one; but I suspect that effect is caused by the volume of the white noise increasing in the car as it speeds up. That increasing white noise results in a lower signal (from the radio) to noise ratio. You perceive this as a diminishing of the volume from the radio.

        Now that you make me think about it, I suspect there is some luxury car sound system out there that increases and decreases it’s output volume automatically to compensate for ambient noise.

  9. As Margo’s comment implies, there’s all kinds of annoyance and complaint out there, but that doesn’t mean the government needs to pass laws against everything that bothers us. I hate it, for example, when men of great height and girth end up seated next to me in economy on an airplane. I hate that much, much worse than I hate loud commercials. If I had my choice of peeve-based laws, it would be illegal to seat anyone over 6’2″ or 225 lb in an economy seat on a commercial airplane.

    Another thing that really gripes me is that women’s clothing manufacturers all use different size criteria. Not only that, but in every decade, manufacturers change their individual criteria, so that you’re always having to play catch-up. The line “6 is the new 14” was a joke in the movie The Devil Wears Prada — but the reverse is actually pretty close to the truth. What was a 12 in the 1980s is an 8 today. At some point, we’ll have to develop sizes lower than 0 — and the average-size woman will be a 2.

    But it would be amateurish to merely require that manufacturers all use the same size criteria. The real precept for legislating this should be that women feel good about themselves when shopping for clothes. It should be written into law that whatever size a woman is when she’s most pleased with her appearance and her clothing choices, that’s the size her clothes must be for the rest of her life. This might seem like a challenge, but it’s only a matter of passing laws that eliminate the things people don’t like. Nothing to it.

    • I’ve tried to understand why women put up with the women’s clothing size anarchy for more than 38 years. And I will probably be trying to understand why they put up with it for the next 15 or 20 years if the actuaries know what they’re talking about.

      When the wife and I go to the mall together once or twice a year I cruise through one store for 15 or 20 minutes and pick up a few articles of clothing, if I need anything. Then I go on to stroll the 2 or so mile circuit of the mall (both levels). Along the way I catch the latest Bose demo, check out the TVs, play with the Apple computers, see what new geegaws and gadgets Brookstone and a couple of other specialty stores have on display, and buy a softy cone. After that I stop at a book store to pick up a book to read for a while before I do the circuit of the mall again. When my wife comes to find me she is carrying one or at most two items, the result of 4 or so hours of browsing, trying on, etc.

      I learned long, long ago to make no comment.

      Incidently, the latest Bose demo is well worth seven minutes of immersion and the pain of disappointing the earnest and hopeful young salesman. They now have a TV that can project its voice and achieve amazingly good stereo with no external speakers. The modern world bazaar contains magical things. Plenty of fodder for a new Shaherezade (sp?).

  10. A lot of people don’t like that law of diminishing returns.

  11. “Any idea just how “illegal” it’s gonna be?”

    fuster, I tried via Google to find the answer, but couldn’t find it after a 10 minute search. The law does say that the TV stations must have the necessary noise reduction equipment in place within 1 year after the law’s passing. Or if they can show that compliace will bring about financial hardship, they can appeal to the FCC for a 1 year waiver. I found nothing that said there’d be a fine of $???? for non-compliance.

    I wonder how much our rates will go up as the TV companies pay for and install the necessary equipment? I wish that was in the bill too. “The average rates for TV watchers is estimated to go up 4.3% if the nanny statists pass this bill. Still want it??”

    • I like the idea of stating the financial consequences to the viewers, but my experience is that any added cost to the providers that gets used for a justification for a rate increase results in an increased cost to the consumer far beyond the reimbursement cost to the provider.

      So, if that notice in the bill said “This increase will result in a cost to the cable company of $1/household/year and therefore the company will be increasing your monthly fee by 47 cents” I would like your ideas even better.

      But, anyway I guess that lack of posted criminal penalties might mean that the bill passed made it not so much “illegal” to blare the commercials but instead regulated into being a requirement to avoid the blaring.

      • You appear to be right fuster. I suppose there’s a fine line between between the terms “illegal” and “regulated requirement.” That being said, I don’t know what the difference ultimately would be if non-compliance by the TV companies was taken to its legal end. I’d guess that hypothetical TV company intransigence would eventually lead to fines. Is that any different than saying that non-compliance is illegal?

  12. Not sure about the cost of ensuring that TV commercials are at the proper sound levels. But as a woman who buys clothes I know why there are no standard women’s sizes: Women come in lots of different shapes, and women’s clothes also come in lots of different shapes (way beyond dress shirt, jacket and trousers, polo shirt and jeans). Makes for a lot of diversity. My son-in-law almost took a job at a company that creates software to produce patterns for women’s clothes–it’s a complex operation.

  13. Oh, Margo, there you go being logical.

    Actually, I worked in a high-end men’s clothing store some years ago, and got a good view of how men buy clothing versus how women do. Part of the difference in the sizing standards — i.e., between men’s clothing versus women’s — is that men think nothing of having dress clothes and business-casual items altered. Women are funny about that. In couture salons, the need for alterations is assumed. But in most retail clothing stores, even the better ones, women seem to think their hips should be an inch smaller or their legs an inch and a half longer, if that’s how the clothes are made. On-site tailoring doesn’t gain traction at all in women’s departments, whereas it’s routine for men’s departments.

    The other aspect of women’s clothing, of course, is that women have a lot more different styles to pick from: literally dozens of different effects the clothes are supposed to create in any given season. For men, there’s “look well tailored, look like the successful guys, have the jacket fit well, and hide the jelly roll. Some reasonable level of comfort would be nice.” For women, there’s a whole lot more going on — starting with dozens of footwear options other than oxford or loafer.

    A guy may start out wearing 30-waist khakis and 30 years later be wearing 36-waist khakis, in exactly the same style, that he can buy from the same maker. A woman is much more likely to be buying from different designers and clothing lines at either end of that 30-year stretch, and have two very different ideas of how basics like khaki slacks should make her look.

    This all seems ripe for government intervention to me.

  14. “…hide the jelly roll.” ?????

    not sure that it means what you think it means, but otherwise you’re sure right about guys wearing the same old stuff as the years roll

    • You’re slipping. A fully functional fuster would have included a music video to accompany that jelly roll comment.

  15. One thing that was interesting was that ship had a high crew retention rate, not something that is easy to do, in this time of multiple deployments. So we have gone from real malfeasance in the case of tailhook to some suggestive skits as a reason for termination, that’s not a good move I don’t think.

    So, what’s you’re view on fmr. Mossad chief Dagan, saying Iran’s nuclear program has been set back to 2015

    • ‘So, what’s you’re view on fmr. Mossad chief Dagan, saying Iran’s nuclear program has been set back to 2015″

      Glad you asked that, narc. Some people are saying that Dagan was very broadly hinting of Mossad involvement in the Stuxnet worm attack against Iran.

      The opticon, last I remember, had put her chips on the Chinese being behind that deal.

  16. I know that McFrog, that’s why I was asking her.

  17. I wrote a piece on that at contentions today, narciso.

    • I saw that post earlier and was going to bring it over here to comment.

      It seems to me that there is always something to be said for putting off until tomorrow those things you don’t absolutely have to do today when it comes to war, if only because random events may happen to make the war unnecessary. In the case of Iran, the news that intel pushes back a workable bomb til 2015 is (I think) reason to step back from the brink, especially since the time push back seems to be in part due to somewhat deniable actions (stuxnet, nuc scientist assassinations) that may be repeatable.

      It’s like that old story of teaching the horse to sing:

      The regime may fall. Another way may be found to disrupt the program. The program may have an internal accident. Etc.

      Thinking along those lines also may explain why the intel was publicized as well. The Israeli government may be explaining its decision not to act now to its public.

      Of course on the other hand the intel may have been publicized to lull the Iranians into a false sense of security in advance of a strike; but in that direction, or perhaps I should say in that misdirection, lies madness.

      Incidently, why don’t you cross post your Commentary stuff here?

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