Hello, I'm Henry.  

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Confusing Right from Wrong

Confusing Right from Wrong

A True Seaman

Every bone in his body a spar
every tooth in his head a marlinspike
every hair on his head a rope yarn
When he spits, he spits tar.
Remember the fate of Capt O’Day
Who died defending his right of way
Although he was right as he sped along
He’s just as dead as though he was wrong.
— unknown

Port / Starboard: Any sailor knows these two basic nautical terms refer to the left and the right side of any vessel.  But many of us can only imagine the confusion that must have reigned when the British navy of the 16th century originally adopted

Starboard / Larboard as right and left parlance aboard ships. After having used both expressions for over 300 years, some British naval higher-ups finally concluded that the sounds of wind, waves and flapping sails made distinguishing between “starboard” and “larboard” challenging, nay nearly impossible, to decipher.  Finally deducing these two terms might actually confuse sailors and possibly cause a shipwreck, the naval intelligencia of the mid 19th century finally replaced the latter designation with “port”.  While most nautical nomenclature originated with the old British Navy, "port" was adopted by the British and US Navies in 1846. 

Sometimes right and left are difficult to distinguish.

Why right / left confuse people:

So, what took them so long? Maybe the confusion was more profound than a conflict between admitting they had chosen a nearly indecipherable word while also adhering to traditional sentimentality and accepting common sense. While this issue can be attributed to humans having difficulty with change, it may also be explained by humans simply have difficulty telling the difference between what's right and left as well as what's right and wrong.

Which is her left foot and right foot?

We all know change stultifies and stymies some of us into a kind of paralysis pudding while, for others, change simplifies and eases their existence, making them feel freer and more energized. Changing even a simple word can prove difficult for some while freeing for others. So it is no surprise with the introduction of a new idea, concept or technology struggles with acceptance often ensue. For those of us who have grown accustomed to life being one way, then suddenly having to accept and accommodate to something different, it often presents numerous side effects.

One such example for most of us who have lived more than 50 years and who can probably relate to the impact of adapting to numerous new developments would be the introduction of the GPS into our everyday lives. 

Obviously, the GPS has made locating a place so much easier than it was previously. But it is technology and has to be learned to be appreciated. While introduced in the last decade, the GPS is now ubiquitously and universally accepted in cars, boats, airplanes, phones, computers and mail. It has generated newer habits for people wanting to find where they are, where something else is and where they or it are going. Rather than use maps, charts, and other reliable resources, GPS has also spawned different and changed and in many cases eliminated dialogue. 

 I can imagine incidents of people asking strangers for directions only to be confronted with the reply: "Man, you don't have a GPS? What planet are you living on?". I can only imagine the awkwardness or humiliation that response might create, especially if a significant other is standing right next to you hoping to make the theatre in time. Not cool!

Merely asking for directions can be challenging - especially for those macho men who never admit they are lost, have left their GPS at home or haven't yet downloaded the app version onto their new smart phone. While it is not surprising that GPS can still be confusing to some less tech-savy souls, GPS has probably saved some men some embarrassment. They don't now have to ask for directions unless, of course, they don't know how to access, turn on or interpret their GPS app. Then they are really out of touch with modern world reality. Not cool either!

Trusting a device rather than a human being poses another element we humans encounter. GPS's have been known to make mistakes - they were created by humans, after all! I think I have experienced and heard enough stories about this so-called anomaly enough times not always to trust GPS's directions. Could it be that some untrusting types may spend their time confirming their GPS directions with another human being's best route suggestions. If that is the case, better bone up guys. Nothing like not knowing the multiplication tables when you need them.

Probably because I am a man using a GPS, I prefer not to ask humans. And besides, if I were that type of person who has to prove and display his masculinity, I could, always blame the electronics if it screwed up. Better than blaming a buddy, I would think. But now that I ponder that possibility, I believe most people don't like taking responsibility for their mistakes so maybe the GPS gives them a scapegoat for lateness or lostness. But that only works so far because as a modern man, you are supposed to comprehend the GPS; it is a tool today and if you don't use it correctly or it screws up, you are the tool today and tomorrow.

About 10 percent of the population is left-handed

Thank goodness, GPS has arrived. I know that having someone explain directions is not always reliable because some people give directions without first thinking where you are located. They think they know where they are, but often that is only relevant to how they got to their present location. And then people's perceptions of distances and locations are often inaccurate. And then there is always the communication challenges. What someone said and what you heard may be two different things. And I have discovered that while most people want to help, they are often wrong and mislead you to a bar when you were trying to find a barber.

With the advent of GPS, conversations have changed. Now asking, giving or receiving oral directions are almost entirely unnecessary or obsolete nowadays.  So those conversations and verbal efforts are disappearing almost as fast as some books from school libraries. Even researching is so easy now, books are becoming less and less needed. While many men may have breathed a collective sign of relief; many will undoubtedly still stand firm that they know the way to San Jose. That kind of change, after all, doesn't happen very fast.

Of course, my two children (early 30's & late 20's) don't need any help navigating anywhere. They are almost as adept with any new tech device as any 21st century offspring who is almost instantly skilled the day a new gadget is first introduced to the world market.

But there is more at play here than just adapting to new ways of performing tasks or locating places. GPS certainly isn't the ultimate answer. It doesn't know and can't tell us where we want to go. It only functions if we know how to use it. It can't rescue us from ourselves. Maybe if we know ourselves better, we can do more. Do you know your left and right brains? If not, maybe it's time to introduce yourself to your SELF.

Left Brain / Right Brain

Hay Foot / Straw Foot: According to Civil War historian, Bruce Catton, military drill sergeants repeatedly found that among the raw recruits there were men so abysmally untaught that they did not know left from right, and hence could not step off on the left foot as all soldiers should. To teach these farm lads how to march, the sergeants would tie a wisp of hay to the left foot and a wisp of straw to the right; then, setting the men to march, they would chant, “Hay-foot, straw-foot, hay-foot, straw-foot”—and so on, until everybody had caught on. A common name for a green recruit in those days became“strawfoot.

Green countries drive on the right. Yellow countries drive on the left.

About a 35% of the world population drives on the left, and the countries that do are mostly old British colonies. Why do some countries drive on the left and others on the right? The answer can be found in the history and origin

The Caribbean's driving rights and lefts

All the Bahamian Islands and Bermuda drive on the left. Most of the Caribbean islands drive on the right.

Final Note:

During my 20+ years in education, I observed how many students relied on calculators. And this dependence often made performing functions such as the multiplication tables or simple mental math more difficult.  And as a side effect and consequence, students often became more anxious and unsure about their math abilities. If their calculator's battery ever died, some would feel helpless on a math test.  

Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a PROFOUND tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.
— M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

I venture to surmise that GPS might eventually diminish some people's sense of direction and affect their ability to know their own location. Like all new inventions, the mind adjusts, but sometimes it becomes so reliant that it misses learning some of the basics we may need someday. When we don't need or use our brain to calculate, we lose our thinking skills. And we in turn lose some of ourself in the process.

Wake-Up Calling

Wake-Up Calling

Some Solo Circumnavigators

Some Solo Circumnavigators