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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
Yesterday's news
Another of those news-article-with-comment fragments (believe it or not, I'm deleting more than I post: down to 113 once this one's been exorcised). Again, unedited except that I've made the URL into a hyperlink for convenience.
Lib Dem transport spokesman Norman Baker said: "Young drivers could face legal problems because they have had a couple of drinks the night before or used alcohol in cooking. The answer is a lower limit for all drivers."

The reference to "young drivers" make it sound as though being a "driver" is something inherent, essential, rather than merely a choice on a case-by-case basis to perform an action. In fact, in that sense, it's a bit like drinking: so why don't we say that young drinkers could face legal problems just because they have a couple of car-journeys? They're equally absurd. Neither drinking nor driving is essential or irreversible; there's nothing illogical about legislating to make them mutually exclusive choices.

The question of why it should only apply to "young" people is another matter entirely, and seems to me to be supporting the idea that drink-driving is something you can do when you're a better driver: this may indeed be true, but who decides who "counts" as a "better" driver? Older drivers, who (may) have more experience? Younger drivers, who (may) have quicker reflexes? Either way, since the majority of people believe they're above average competence as drivers, this seems like a dangerous idea to propagate.

The reason I never post these things at the time is that I feel I can't post them without hedging around everything a bit more, making sure that every possible argument is covered, making sure I'm not categorically stating anything that isn't 100% verifiable fact. Not being interpreted as categorically stating anything, etc. Not apparently being interpreted as, etc. Endlessly backing off, bent double with différence. The more I start to hedge, the more arguments come crawling out from under the stone, the more it all unravels, until I'm incapable of saying anything. Every thought is just a flamewar that I haven't been burned by yet: in the acorn, the tree; in the tree, the dead wood, the pyre.

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jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: November 18th, 2010 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Sometimes I fear - and consider it an informed fear worth worrying about - that every post, and every comment, I make is wrong, or a mistake, somehow. You are not alone.

There's a quote that I'm going to mangle that runs along the lines of "If ((humanity)) waited long enough to do anything so that no ((human)) could find fault with it, nothing would ever get done", and part of me feels that that has to be the spirit in going ahead and making imperfect but better-than-nothing contributions, give or take a bit of doubt over the anthropocentricity.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 18th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)
If ((humanity)) waited long enough to do anything so that no ((human)) could find fault with it, nothing would ever get done

Yes -- I tend to articulate that as "don't let the best be the enemy of the good" ... but in the case of LJ posts/comments it's not so much worrying about some hypothetical fault-finding or imperfections that will make me feel inadequate, it's more worrying about the actual verbal kicking I'm going to get from real people on the internet. I can live with "that post wasn't as good as it could have been" or "I didn't say that very clearly, sorry, let me try again", but flamewars upset me (and saying "please can we stop this, you're upsetting me" is always interpreted as "I know I'm wrong but I'm too proud to admit it so please kick me some more until I confess"). :-(

I'm not sure what you mean about the anthropocentricity -- I strongly suspect that humans are the only creatures daft enough to faff about worrying about stuff like this! :-}
From: rmc28 Date: November 18th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a whole queue of posts I've half-written in my head (and in one or two places written down) and I can't bear to post them because people will shout at me.

So, it's not just you.
pjc50 From: pjc50 Date: November 18th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me too. There's plenty of half-formed ideas which feel important but are just too flammable to discuss easily on the internet. :(
cartesiandaemon From: cartesiandaemon Date: November 18th, 2010 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel I can't post them without hedging around everything a bit more,

I know what you mean. The ironic thing is that I do it on both sides; the problem is partially in the situation as well as in the people.

I find myself critiquing a post for essentially irrelevant stuff, which is often interesting, but frustrating for whoever made it. But conversely, I'm torn between being bold and sweeping, and striving to be unimpeccably correct.

I get a visceral sense of satisfaction from being sweeping (cf. http://maddox.xmission.com/), and it's often more interesting to read. And yet, I always value correctness, and always feel guilty when some pedant comes along and says "when you said X was ALWAYS useless, in fact, it's often useful in [long list of edge cases]". I've heard the same thing from big bloggers: sometimes the most interesting stuff is when they had a small audience and felt free to let rip with their opinions: now people expect them to be RIGHT and every minor point generates 100s of pedants who quibble with it.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 18th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
unimpeccably correct

I'm not sure if this is incredibly apt or incredibly ironic, but I feel compelled to point out that you mean "impeccably" (or possibly "unimpeachably"?). :-)

I try not to pick at little details of people's posts unless the details are really important or I know them well enough to know they won't mind. I think among some of the picky pedants there's a big danger of misreading the point of a post, and responding to an implicit request for personal sympathy as if it was a request for some kind of impersonal proofreading of an academic paper, with nothing but corrections/facts/fixes (I'm not saying I'm never guilty of this myself -- I like fixing things & find it hard to resist!).

I do think it's a bad thing when people get bogged down in the tiny details at the expense of the bigger picture; but everybody does it, because the tiny details are the things they can get hold of. On the other hand, I think that tactic is often used quite deliberately as a way of derailing and undermining the argument, on the basis that if someone's wrong (or their rightness can be called into question) about a tiny fact then it immediately makes the rest of their argument invalid.

I suspect (thinking out loud now) it also makes a difference that the small points are much easier to stick in a short comment, whereas a big-picture response would probably merit a whole separate post (so the comments on a post may look disproportionately full of trivia, because the more in-depth responses are happening elsewhere).

BTW thank you for pointing me at http://maddox.xmission.com/, it keeps making me LOL!
cartesiandaemon From: cartesiandaemon Date: November 18th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
point out that you mean "impeccably"

Oops *blush* apparently over-negating things is a natural human urge, one I have not risen above :)

everybody does it

Yes, good point, it's another irresistible...

I think that tactic is often used quite deliberately as a way of derailing and undermining the argument,

Indeed. If I were deliberately playing to an audience that would be effective; in fact, I'm not, and don't really want to be :( I trust most people on my friendslist not to be _deliberately_ derailing, even if it comes across that way, but many people are, and even my friendslist is probably not free of it.

unless the details are really important or I know them well enough to know they won't mind.

Yeah. I mean, enjoy it when people are inspired by a post to say something interesting about some aspect of it, or to helpfully amplify some factual matter therein. But it happens I feel a lot happier about it if they something like "by the way" or "I agree with your point but" or "I don't feel qualified to comment more generally but" or "I'm sorry to completely derail the discussion based on a passing comment you probably didn't mean, but I think it's actually important to".

But some people just launch into an extensive rebuttal of sentence 2, paragraph 5, and I feel like, yes, maybe that was not the ABSOLUTELY MOST LITERALLY TRUE way I could have said that, and I would never say correctness doesn't MATTER, but methodically trimming my analogies of hyperbole or depth is not the most interesting or helpful contribution they could have made.

I've toyed with the idea of screening comments on semi-serious posts, to see if not having them appear immediately cuts down on instant-gratification comments and promotes only ones where people actually want to say something. I know, if there's even a five minute delay in posting, I tend to rethink useless comments at the cost of only a small loss in maybe-relevant ones. But I didn't want to seem to inhibit conversation, and didn't bother.

BTW thank you for pointing me at http://maddox.xmission.com/, it keeps making me LOL!

:) Thank you, I thought it was hilarious, despite or because of being the opposite of what most people I know prefer to do (a bit like Bill&Ted). I think it's that it's so obviously so FAR over the top, you correctly interpret his extreme vehemence as importance, rather than literal truth :)
shermarama From: shermarama Date: November 18th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think there is a specific problem with younger drivers, in that the 17-20 age group are the ones it costs a bomb to get insurance for because they're always bloody crashing, and governments always seem to be perplexed by this and constantly try and introduce new bits of legislation to do something about it, regardless of whether the thing they do is any use or not. There's probably alcohol involved in a certain number of accidents involving 17-20 year olds, so they say hey, let's ban it, and the only way I can see that leading to improved figures is because a certain number of young drivers who have had something to drink but not enough to actually affect their concentration will get caught out and taken off the road, while the younger drivers who get trollied and crash because they're young and think they're bulletproof will still get trollied and crash because they're young and think they're bulletproof. This is surely provable because it's not a limit being proposed for new drivers; why should someone who's 24 and just got their licence be magically more competent on the roads than a 17 year old? And yet they are; the insurance costs a lot less. So the logical thing to do is just raise the age people can get a driving licence at, but then there are bits of the UK where a car is the key to being able to get to work, so that really wouldn't help with youth unemployment, or with bringing about the sort of maturity and responsibility that leads to 24 year olds being much less likely to crash their car than 17 year olds...
livredor From: livredor Date: November 18th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think they've more or less sorted this in Australia, by setting a period of 1 probationary year between passing the driving test and getting a full licence. During this year you have a blood alcohol limit of zero, and I think you're not allowed on highways, and you have to take some advanced driving courses to convert your probational licence to a real one. That deals with people getting the right to drink at the same time they get their licence, and it helps to create a culture where newly qualified 18-year-olds are generally more rather than less cautious, and the compulsory advanced driver education really helps to make up for the lack of experience.

I like that a lot better than just trying to price teenagers out of driving. It's fairer, and apart from anything else the most reckless drivers are the rich kids who just blithely assume that Daddy will buy them a new car or pay for bail if anything goes wrong.
pjc50 From: pjc50 Date: November 18th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting about Australia, seems to be an even safer country than the UK. Although it's also a lot emptier.

Bail is a non-issue in the UK. I'm wondering if it's the rich kids or the uninsured or stolen causing more accidents; can't find any stats immediatly though.
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j4 From: j4 Date: November 21st, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)


That's... special.

Perhaps I should get baby-clothes with "pre-cyclist" embroidered on the front, just to challenge the dominant thingummy.
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