A Few Small Things Wondered About
Just a few things I wonder about:
1. Why is it that the "mixed vegetables" in restaurant lines are usually 90 percent broccoli (I think I know the answer.)
2. Similarly, why is the "mixed fruit" usually 90 percent chunks of melon, mostly the green kind? (Same answer, probably. It has to do with a different kind of green.)
3. Why do so many computer programs ask you yes-or-no questions without offering "yes" or "no" as answers?
Here's a typical example. Your computer, rather impudently casting doubt on your judgment, demands to know, "Are you sure you want to log off?" A simple "Yea" or "Nay" would appear to suffice. But no. Instead, you have to choose between "Log off" and "Cancel." But those are not answers to a yes-or-no question. They are answers to the either-or question, "Would you rather log off or cancel?"
Another example: "Would you like to update all assets at this time?" Pretty straightforward. Surely it calls for a "Yes" or a "No." Maybe even "Dang Right" or "Heck No." Instead, the options are "OK" and "Cancel." Go figure.
4. On the other hand, why do so many celebrities or politicians being interviewed on TV start off their answers to either-or questions with the word "yes" or "no"? Start listening for it. Happens all the time.
"Senator, are you going home for the recess or staying here in Washington?"
"No, I can't stand it here."
Drives me crazy. It wasn't a yes-or-no question.
5. Why do we all live with the fiction that anybody can really read the page of important-looking legalese that fleetingly flashes in fine print at the end of so many TV commercials for bank CDs or whatever?
I doubt that even Watson, the IBM supercomputer of "Jeopardy!" fame, could manage that feat, comparable to absorbing your average-length Steinbeck short story in 1.6 seconds.
6. Speaking of fiction, why do we all keep living with the no-longer-remotely-valid assumption that old-fashioned diagonal parking of "cars" on our city streets still makes a particle of sense?
Here's the problem, and it's a big one: In the old days, almost everybody drove an actual car, as in sedan. When you got ready to back out of your diagonal parking space - no prob. All you had to do was glance out your right rear side window and over the low trunk of the car next to you to see if the coast was clear. It's the way the thing was designed to work.
Try that now. The trunk mostly became a thing of the past when most of us switched from driving cars to tooling around in monster SUVs, minivans and other urban assault vehicles. As a result, all you see now is a solid, eight-foot-tall wall of steel. You can't even peer through the windows of the neighboring vehicle and glimpse what's on the other side (assuming you're high enough off the ground to attempt it), since they're all heavily tinted in sinister Darth Vader black.
Things have gotten so bad that just getting back out into the flow of traffic on, say, Pennsylvania Avenue in front of The Pilot involves taking your life in your hands. Some drivers send a passenger back on foot to play traffic cop. Some only park in front of buildings with big plate glass windows that afford reflections of approaching traffic. But most blind-fliers simply hope for the best, put her in reverse, start easing back and wait for the blare of horns or the crunch of metal.
I don't know what the answer is - maybe universal rear-mounted TV cameras or monkeys trained to hang off the back and give you a signal. Until then - sorry, but the diagonal parking system is broke.
7. When I just ran this column through the spell-checker, why did it question "Darth" while having no problem with "Vader," since neither is a word?
Contact Steve Bouser at (910) 693-2470 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book "Death of a Pinehurst Princess" is available at The Country Bookshop and other locations.
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