Road rage on Gliese 581

by phil on Friday Oct 1, 2010 11:59 AM

Anybody faster than me is a maniac.

George Carlin has a quote about driving: "Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?" Let's call this the courtesy gap, which represents the average difference in perceived courtesy in a population. In other words, everybody thinks they are more courteous than average, which is mathematically impossible. Perhaps it's because everything we do consciously, is done with courtesy, and all our discourtesies happen subconsciously. And yet, when we are the victim of a rude act, we don't know whether it was done consciously or not. Even if we assume a 50-50 chance that the person was consciously discourteous, that's still much higher than the approximately zero percent of the time that we are conscious of ourselves being discourteous.

This ocurred to me as I succumbed to road rage recently. My wilfull defiance of road rage has been an act of pride all my driving life, and I don't want to assimilate to our angry driving culture. It's bad for your health, that's one problem, but it also simply doesn't make sense for everybody to be angry on the road. Maybe half of them deserve to be, the half that are better drivers than average. But not everybody.

What happiness inputs don't scale?

Is there a cap on how happy you can be? Happiness is probably more like a dial from 0.0 to 1.0. Happiness doesn't scale with money, at least not after a certain amount of money. What other dimensions does happiness not scale with? Is there a certain amount of richness of a social life beyond which you don't get a happiness boost?

A different kind of "ring world"

Astronomers say they spotted a 'Goldilocks' planet for the first time. It's called 'Goldilocks' because the temperature is not too hot and not too cold. It's "just right." It's not exactly like Earth though. The planet has three times the mass of our planet, even though it's only slightly larger in width. It's also closer to its star — 14 million miles away versus our 93 million. The most interesting difference is that the planet doesn't rotate much, so one side is mostly bright, and the other side is dark. On the bright side of Goldilocks, temperatures reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. On the dark side, they hit 25 degrees below zero. But, if you go to the zone between the bright and dark sides, you get an even, human-friendly temperature year-round, with a perpetual sunrise. Picture this for a moment. This means if we moved to Goldilocks, we'd probably civilize a ring-shaped zone around the planet where it's always temperate. And if we looked outside, we would see a giant crescent edge of the sun, hugging maybe 30% of our visible horizon. Some adventurous folks may try to inhabit the darker or brighter sides of the planets, possibly leading a "Mad Max" style lifestyle in the deserts. That's my sci-fi thought for the day.


Tod Fairfield said on October 14, 2010 6:36 PM:

In regards to George Carlin's quote, the matter of speed actually has an objective basis. There are speed limits. Every one going slower than those limits is going unnecessarily slow, and every one going over is taking the risk of getting ticketed or worse. I drive the speed limit and every one who does otherwise is objectively off their rocker.

Phil Dhingra said on October 14, 2010 8:16 PM:

Yeah, I drive the speed limit too.

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