Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Conference Trip: Random Comments

The door of the plane cockpit had a sign saying 'Unauthorized Entry is Prohibited.' That is a pointless tautology; it conveys no information.  It would have been much better to have a sign saying 'Crew Only'

In the security screening leaving Washington, they had one of those new 'Millimeter Wave' scanning machines that basically make a nude picture of someone.  Inside was a woman who looked completely harmless and fairly attractive.

While waiting for a flight, I was sitting across from a woman who had a massive reddish-purple fake leather purse.  This thing was about three-quarters the size of my backpack.  She was talking on her mobile phone, and I heard her say, "I didn't bring my big purse with me."

On the first flight, I made the mistake of ordering cranberry apple juice, foolishly thinking it might be something like the juice my parents get.  Nope.  It was basically just flavored corn syrup.  It was disgusting, with so much fructose that I could practically taste the corn.  On the flight back, I got the Bloody Mary Mix.  It was marginally better, but had way too much salt.  I now know what a Bloody Mary tastes like, and I have no desire to ever order one.

I still like watching the ground beneath me as I fly, especially near takeoffs and landings.  It is such a fun view of the world.

The hotel food was really top-notch, by which I mean it was almost as good as what my mom would cook on a bad day, if she was using bland white flour and rice instead of good whole grains.  I really have become a snob for whole grains.  I ended up taking the bread off the lunch sandwiches and eating the innards (roast beef and veggies) with a fork and knife.  It was really good that way.  Why do people insist on ruining perfectly good food by putting it between two slabs of white 'bread'?

The service was impressive.  When a waiter started to take away a plate that had one last bite of cake on it, I twitched a tiny bit, thinking about stopping him but then deciding not to.  He noticed that, and left the plate alone.

At lunch, one of the professors related a conversation he had with a Frenchman.  The Frenchman was complaining about ignorant Americans.  The professor said that there are plenty of ignorant and crude people in rural France, but that you don't notice them because they never have enough money to travel.  The Frenchman did not dispute this, but instead said, "People that uncultured should not be allowed to become wealthy."  That says a lot about the elite French attitude to life, economics, and government.

My presentation went fairly well, and got plenty of feedback.  One professor noted that I seemed to switch between positive* and normative** statements too often.  But that's how I think.  Whenever you propose something, you have to constantly refer to how it will affect the world.

For example, I later ended up talking with someone who said that it was morally wrong to treat people differently because of where they were born, so all borders should be completely open.  When I said that this was not practical and we should advocate other types of immigration reform that might actually be implemented and improve people's lives, he accused me of 'pandering to xenophobia' and acted like I was immoral.

There is no way to argue or discuss anything with people who refuse to accept the constraints of reality and are convinced of their own moral superiority.  All you can do is ignore everything they say, hope they go away, and make sure they never get into a position of power.

* Stating a fact about the world.
** Making a policy suggestion


Irina Popov said...

Unauthorized entry in a mall is not prohibited. "Authorization" implies "Permission", but not the other way around.
"Unauthorized entry is prohibited" is equivalent to "Only authorized entry is permitted." That means that other people than the crew can enter, as long as they are granted an authorization.

E said...

Gotta agree with Irina...
Did you ever get permission to go up front and sit in the pilot's seat when you were little? And, Airport staff can and do go in occasionally while prepping at the airport! So, while it may seem like needlessly inflated terminology, 'Unauthorised entry prohibited' actually says more and allows for other situations than 'crew only'.

Next time, stick with ordering water!

Alleged Wisdom said...

I already had my bottle of water, and there was a chance to try new things...

I think I'll get tomato juice next time and see what happens.