Monthly Archives: January 2011

When the simplist explanation isn’t (or, Occam vs. Hickman)

After 12 years and 250,000 miles of starting each and every time I put my key in the ignition, Raggedy Ann II failed to start this week, two morning in a row. In other words, assuming I start my car twice every day, this means that after 8,760 successful and drama-free ignitions, there were two failures in a row.

And apparently I’m supposed to accept the idea that each event was independent of the other. William of Ockam and Karl Popper are turning over in their graves.

Ignition Failure 1: easily and accurately diagnosed as dead battery. Probably at least a kilo of PbSO4 all over the positive terminal. Pretty? Yes. Conducive to appropriate functioning? Notsomuch. I got a nice lesson in Volvo battery replacement from a Viking’s Fan and his three-year old hammer-wielding helper, who also enthusiastically attempted to dig up the huge tree in front of Shocking Aqua. (The tree is still standing, minus some bark.)

Problem solved, right? Well. Only kinda.

Next day, Ignition Failure 2: after extensive and complicated diagnostic testing (that consisted of sitting in the driver’s seat and trying to start the car), my Good friend established that Raggedy Ann II’s engine was flooded. He got her started, just barely, and then blew out the accumulated carbon build-up via an Italian tune-up. (He provides this service free of charge. I strongly recommend taking him up on it. Fun enough that I want to do it again. Soon!)

What does this teach us? Well, in addition to the fact that it takes a multicultural contingent to keep my grumpy Swede on the road, it also suggests that, at least occasionally, Hickman was right: the patient can have as many diseases as she damn well pleases.

The difficulty I’m having accepting this idea is reflective of how much I struggle with the multiple dependant variables of life in general. I’m glad that my favorite member of ΦBK will be back in Harrisonburg soon so that we can discuss the philosophical implications of falsifying Occam’s Razor.

Or perhaps I could just have a Stella and try to accept that modern automobiles are complicated machines. Nah. I’d rather over analyze it and revel in the associated angst.


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