Thursday, August 07, 2014


Why?  Of the reporter’s “who, what, when, where, and why”, why seems too often used and too often not used enough.

“Why can’t I stay up?”  “Why do I hafta eat…” are among the persistent questions of children.

“Why don’t they …” is one of the persistent questions of adults who absolve themselves of any responsibility for actions of governments and corporations.

And sometimes we can’t really do much about many activities except ask, “Why?”  Here are a few of my annoying why’s.

Why do so many people complain about city workers standing around doing nothing but so few people complain about private contractors standing around doing nothing?  I often see more of the latter than the former.  In both cases they are generally doing one of three things.  One, they have to wait for more trucks to arrive to deliver or take away things.  Two, they have to discuss the next steps.  Three, like all of us, they need a break.

Why do people in dark cars speed through parking garages without lights and ignore people who are backing out of spaces?  Why do they think the backing drivers can see through the other parked cars?  When I was a bus driver, one of the “yard rules” was that backing buses had right-of-way.  There is no way that a driver backing a 30 or 40 foot vehicle could see through all the intervening buses.  Think of the driver of a compact car trying to see through a pickup truck while backing out.

Why do people insist on talking on cell phones while driving?  A few days ago I was walking across a parking lot and a driver was so busy on his cell phone that he didn’t even notice me.  Had I said “Boo!” he might have swerved into a parked car.

Why do drivers turning left stay behind the crosswalk, but drivers turning right go over the crosswalk?  The first may keep others from turning left on that light cycle.  The second never look to their right for pedestrians.

Why do people have to have car stereos so loud that they can be heard a block or more away?  I have been stopped alongside driver’s whose radios drowned out the sound from mine.

Why do sound systems have to be so loud that the words are distorted?  I didn’t enjoy the excellent singing of “Les Misérables” because the distortions of the over-amped sound system garbled words.

Why do sound systems have to be so loud that they can be heard a mile or more away?  Anybody with a car stereo that loud might get a ticket.

We can hear the Chester Bowl concerts over a half-mile away.  Years ago we enjoyed concerts by Willowgreen and by the Downbeats within a few dozen feet of the stage.  Then somebody decided to crank things up.  The last time I tried to go to a Chester Bowl concert, I wouldn’t even enter the park.  The sound was so loud that my ears hurt at the entrance on the Skyline Parkway.

The Bayfront concerts are even worse.  I could understand some of the words of a recent performer while standing in front of Darland Hall at UMD!  What’s that, about two miles away?  I gave up going to Bayfront concerts years ago.  I think the last time I went was when a friend was playing, and even his music was too loud.

Why do so few people show up to vote?  Don’t they realize that by not voting they get us farther from a democracy and closer to an oligarchy?  That is, “rule” of the people gives way to rule of the few.  Even if your favorite candidates are not favored by the polls, if you show up at the polls, the “winners” will have a smaller margin of “victory”.  There wouldn’t be so much talk of “landslides” if candidates won by 100,000 votes to 95,000 votes instead of 100,000 votes to 50,000 votes.  Also remember polls can be very, very wrong.  Jesse Ventura was predicted to come in third for governor, but enough people didn’t pay attention to the polls that he came in first.

Why do so many people complain about large corporations and then clammer to buy their products?  I know, I know, we need large corporations for our cars, computers, and cell phones, but we can at least get our coffee at locally-owned coffee shops.  I am amazed at the number of liberals who get their books at Amazon when they can get those same books at a locally-owned bookstore.

Why do so many people complain about government inefficiency and mistakes but ignore corporate inefficiency and mistakes?  If corporations are so good why are there so many complaints on customer support blogs?  Why are there warranties other than a revenue source?  Why are there so many typos in books and newspapers?

Finally, why do so many writers keep writing columns to change the world?  Far better writers than they have tried changing the world, but very few of them succeed.  Even then, things still go badly again.  Why?

Mel asks why is he getting older but not wiser.

Also published in Reader Weekly, 2014-08-07 at