As a culture, we don't spend much time thinking about the way the world around us works. We tend to focus our energy on the minutia of individual preferences and concocted issues that have no real impact on our lives.
Following are some random, everyday things that we can file under "Who Cares?". These are things you should know, but don't feel bad if you don't. Your friends probably don't, either.
1. 4-wheel drive and all wheel drive are similar, but they are not the same thing.
This isn't going to be a class in automotive engineering, just know that each has its specific advantages and disadvantages. 4-wheel drive generally consists of two differentials (one between the front wheels, one between the rear wheels) and a transfer case, which in most vehicles can be disengaged for front or rear wheel drive only.
All wheel drive is generally engaged all the time and utilizes three differentials, so all 4 wheels are involved in the process of shifting power to the wheels with the most traction.
As a rule of thumb, 4-wheel drive performs better in off-road activities, muddy trails, rock climbing and such. All wheel drive performs better on paved roads, icy streets and snow-packed highways.
All 4-wheel drives are not the same, just as all anti-lock braking systems and all traction control systems are not the same. A great deal of technology goes into the way each system works and the way they work together.
BMW, for example uses electronic traction controls, while most other car makers use hydraulic systems. Electronics has a speed advantage over hydraulics, which makes BMW's traction control one of the best all wheel drive systems available. I would put Audi's Quattro as a close second, but I'm sure others would argue that Quattro is the best.
2. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
It's probably been a while (like never) since this has come up in cocktail hour conversation, but it's a basic law of nature, one of the underlying fundamentals in the study of physics.
All energy comes from the sun. We can't make it, we can't destroy it. We can, however convert it and use for our own purposes until easily accessible sources of energy have been depleted.
If you think electricity is an example of energy being created, you might want to consider a career in sheep herding or hair styling.
3. A 42-gallon barrel of oil produces about 17 gallons of gasoline. Just thought you'd like know.
4. Sequestration or "supercommittee sequestration" may be the real culprit.
Most people don't have a clue about this one, but these are the basic facts. In 2011, as the regular skirmish over the debt ceiling raged on, a committee was formed to try to cut spending by $1.5 Trillion over the following 10 years.
As expected, Democrats on the committee wanted to protect Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans wanted to retain carte blanche to buy outdated, overpriced weapons from the people who made those outdated, overpriced weapons and wrote big checks to support their campaigns and life styles.
Because of the inability of the super committee to come up with a budget, the sequestration went into effect in March of 2013.
Spending cuts were applied in equal dollar amounts to federal programs regardless of their importance or efficacy. Education, child care and veteran support were a few of the categories to be hit the hardest. While these cuts went into effect during the Obama administration, they were the direct result of Republican pressure to cut spending, regardless of the impact.
2016 GOP presidential hopefuls are making hay promising to rebuild the military that President Obama destroyed. Not so fast. Those cuts in military spending were forced into effect by the very people now calling it "un-American."
Here in the heartland, we don't think too much about rising oceans. At an average elevation of just 5 feet above sea level, the collection of tiny islands and atolls known as the Maldives is disappearing under the Indian Ocean.
You can deny climate change all you want, but keep the rising tide in mind if you're thinking about retiring to Florida.
6. Always make good on your bets.
Losing a bet is the ultimate test of a person's character. In the old days (before streaming Friends was even possible), it was said that a man is only as good as his word.
Today we would substitute "person" for "man," but you get the idea. If you don't keep your word, you suck.
When you lose a bet, your character and your integrity are put to the test.
An upstanding person pays off, exactly as it was proposed and does it promptly, without whining and without prodding from the winner.
If you lose a $50 bet, don't give the winner of the $20 and say, "There you go." If your bet was for dinner at a high-priced steakhouse, then to Mastro's you must go.
Throwing some shrimp on the barbie will not cover it.
Every day we get the chance to be the person we want to be. If you want to be considered a person of good character and integrity, pay off your bets with a smile.
Anything less and you are a reneger. And you suck.
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