November 15th, 2014

krazy koati

When I looked in her eyes they were blue but, nobody home

The sensible way to drive from mid-Michigan to Cedar Point gets you to US 23 south, and then in Maumee, Ohio, get on the Turnpike. But there's not a direct link between US 23 and the Turnpike for reasons that I'm sure are buried in political complications. This time around I took the wrong exit to get into Maumee, though, and ended up bypassing the city's meat-eating district (seriously; the path takes you past a lot of steak restaurants), and then, a-ha! We got to the Speedway gas station that's just before the Turnpike, which was great as I'd needed to refill and we needed the bathroom. And the mistake revealed that just behind the Speedway all this time, unknown to us, was a classic mid-century modern bowling alley, a center of neon and Populuxe such as Zippy the Pinhead would lavish months of attention upon. You know that delight in discovering something wonderful just past the bounds of your known world.

And yet ... something felt vaguely weird about the Speedway; it seemed a bit more dingy than I remembered from our previous visit just a month earlier. I didn't think it was a single-person men's room, either, but after all there's a lot of Speedways in the universe. And, well, it was a very short block from the Speedway to the Turnpike, so isn't that the right spot? Only the off-ramp was way too short, wasn't it? And why didn't we go past the hotel with the indoor water-park like normal?

On the return trip I deliberately stopped at the Speedway we always stop at, at the end of the meat-eating district, and I have to conclude that we did not accidentally fall into an alternate universe while driving through northwestern Ohio. The Speedway we're used to is a bit cleaner, has multiple-person bathrooms, and for that matter is in front of a mini-mall, not a bowling alley, and kitty-corner to a Kroger's, not a BP gas station being converted to something else. It's just that apparently the Maumee exit for the Ohio Turnpike is flanked by a pair of not-quite-identical Speedways.

Trivia: Administration of France's colonial empire was transferred from the Navy to the Ministry of Commerce in 1881, back to the Navy in 1882; to Commerce in 1889; to the Navy in 1892; to Commerce in 1893, and finally to a new Ministry of Colonies in 1894 (though some colonies remained under the control of the Interior, Foreign, or War ministries). Source: The Vulnerability of Empire, Charles A Kupchan.

Currently Reading: They Satisfy: The Cigarette In American Life, Robert Sobel. There's a lot of interesting stuff in this (1978) book, but the most fascinating is in the prologue, where Sobel expresses the idea that the cigarettes-and-cancer link is this not-yet-settled scientific question that, you know, sure, some large fraction of regular cigarette users get lung cancer but how does that explain how many don't, right?

PS: Reading The Comics, November 14, 2014: Rectangular States Edition, since there were like four hundred thousand mathematics comics this week. First of these since the last roundup.