April 17, 2008

Those Aren't My Pants: Autobahn

Editor's Note: In order to help my obsessive need for order, I was saving this until I'd posted my Touch piece, but the excessively cloudy weather kept me from taking nice texture photographs of my yarn & knits, so, instead, I bring you Mr. Cool's latest piece.


After the greatest aggregate technological feat in history, the Apollo Space program, few technologies compare in engineering, practical, and social triumphs. One of those wonders just happens to be the German Autobahn. What’s not to like: no speed limit, no tail-gating, no road rage, little traffic, less frequent construction, fewer teenage drivers, and an overall safer driving experience. As an American, I am in love with the freedom of driving – to the point of self-destruction some would say – and I want the Autobahn.

If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we have the American version of the Autobahn? First, let me explain why I think the Autobahn is awesome, despite it’s biggest fan and support (good old Adolph himself). I like to drive fast, because it’s fun. The licensing process is difficult, expensive, and takes up to $5,000 to complete the driving and testing requirements to be sanctioned. While this seems goes against our ideas of freedom, it means fewer and more proficient drivers: equals safer roads, so you can go fast. The roads are strictly enforced by uniformed and undercover officers, cameras, and self-policed by concerned citizens. Fines for tail-gating, weaving, or failing to “drive right” lead to graduated fines based on income (so Johan Shmohan may pay $50, while Count Von Sucksberger may pay $20,000 for the same offense!). Also, road rage is kept to a minimum via the charge of “criminal insult” which covers threats, vulgarities, non-verbals (“you know, the finger…”), excessive honking of the horn and could cost you $200. (In case you are curious, all the sums have already been converted from the Euros and Deutschmarks thanks to the History Channel.)

In Colorado we have roads with grades as steep as 5-35%, while the Autobahn’s gradient never exceeds 5%, ever. The Autobahn’s road deck is 16 inches, tripling our measly American 5 inches. The Autobahn’s beauty and engineering are unsurpassed as roads go, and are capable of landing a Boeing 747. No too shabby, or so though Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who as President spearhead the American Interstate System – one of his demands on the new road system was that 1 mile of each 5 mile stretch was to be straight and level to accommodate emergency airfields in war times. Ike is one of my favorites Presidents, and a man of significant leadership and character. Anyway, back to das road…

Unfortunately, most of what we think we want (more money, more freedom, free gas, a bigger house, putting men on the moon, world peace, and the autobahn) is shrouded in myth and we rarely get the truth. It was built with the help of slave labor from concentration camps, its purpose was to show the dominance of the German people, was and is ridiculously expensive to construct and maintain in life and taxes. Besides, if you think gas is expensive here, try $8 a liter. So, I like the Autobahn, and I really like strict enforcement and the sliding fine scale. But, am I willing to pay the price – I think so, are you?

Okay, so very little hilarity has ensued, and even less was Bavarian style, so I’ll pull out my “throw down” blogget I keep on my left ankle…

In an effort to stay moderately healthy, I returned from a pleasant run at the local park and grabbed an apple to satisfy that post run food craving (significant proof I need to run). So, I pull a wonderfully crisp Gala from the fridge and begin to munch. Bite three yields that little sticker proclaiming state of origin and lot number (Oregon, #1354). So, what does this prove? I don’t wash produce before I eat, and why should I? I don’t wash the cheese I eat, the crackers I munch, or the lunch meat in my sandwich. Besides, a little DDT never hurt anybody…apparently my fact checkers say DDT is very bad and was pulled from produce decades ago.

Regardless, I’m good to go. Besides, if I’m going to worry about what contaminates touch my skin, I’m better off washing the packaging – who knows what sort of crazy bug comes latched to the shrink-wrap on my socks made and packaged in Costa Rica, or the bird flu carrying bug that escapes from the bouncy ball purchased at Target but produced in China (ala classic Simpson’s Episode “Bart in the Bubble”). Should I wash my produce, probably, but I’m not going to. If I give into the CDC, who’s next, the EPA, FDA? Besides, I work in a jail, and despite my wife’s horror, my standards of cleanliness have been lowered. Sad but true.


lynnkirkbride said...

Mark- Hannah K would be appalled to know that you don't wash your fruit. She will probably pitch in for some fruit wash once she reads this! Lynn

Hannah said...

Aargh, I was going to say you're baiting me, but it looks like one near and dear already beat me to it.

Autobahn - engineering feats of wonder, we salute you. But let's forget about all this expensive, exclusive driving in Sonderklasse sedans and just go to Oktoberfest. What say?

Matty said...

I don't really wash fruit either. Or anything else for that matter. Jeans need at least 5 days of wear post-wash to be comfortable....I live in Eastern Europe, my smell just blends in.....my truck? Well, if you've seen it, that one goes without saying.