Bag of Crap
I just saw something called “A Bag of Crap” for sale over on Woot.com. Then their web server crashed because too many people were trying to buy this highly desirable item at the same time.
In lieu of typical product sales, Woot occasionally offers a blind grab bag officially called “Random Crap.” While today its accompanying picture of a paper lunch bag with a question mark has kept its unofficial name “Bag of Crap,” (BOC) it was originally dubbed “Bag of Crap” during the early years of the site when a physical bag of some kind (notebook, iomega zipper bags, etc.) was sold with the 1-3 “craps” and was part of what you were buying. Today, the BOC contains at least three “crappy” items and one bag whose value and quality are not guaranteed, but sometimes expensive items are included. The BOC typically triggers millions of order requests and sells out within seconds, causing server lag and usually a crash. During the January 25, 2011 selling, the website received a record 3.1 million requests, and the product was sold out within eight seconds.
During April Fools Day 2011, Woot staged a “Bag of Crap” flash game, which users were instructed to play in order to win the privilege of buying Bags of Crap. On April 1, 2011, eight thousand Bags of Crap were sold. Later in the day, once the Bag of Crap selling period was over, a Woot admin said that there were over seven million attempts to get the Bags of Crap.
I gotta get me some of that.
The collapse of a fair
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
–William Butler Yeats
Who doesn’t love a fair?
Me, for one.
Around here in my hometown there are yearly events like the County Fair and Derbytastic which some of the locals disparagingly call Dirttastic. (I’ve changed the name to protect the dirty.) In the 10 years I’ve lived in this small town I’ve never been to either event.
Somehow I don’t feel too deprived.
I think, when it comes to humans, there are two inescapable realities. Things can go wrong and, when they do, the protestations of “not my fault” by the people in charge will often be the result.
“We never could foreseen that” is a common refrain. It is incumbent on the rest of us to determine, for ourselves, if that is really true or not. When there has been loss of life, we have to know what happened. Was it preventable? Or not? Was there negligence? Was all done that could and should have been done?
In the case of a nuclear reactor in Japan we were quickly told things like “no one could have anticipated” what had happened. We were told it was a freak set of circumstances.
At Fukushima, what happened can simply be explained. The plant experienced an “act of God” that exceeded what the plant was designed to withstand. Then we get told how unlikely it was. What does that really matter when it already actually happened?
What about the Indiana State Fair, where five people lost their lives after a stage collapsed?
The information I’m about to write about is from news reports. The information can be wrong, either by design or accident. Therefore, as always, take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt. This is an opinion piece and contains my speculations.
Rolling Stone Music quoted a police officer on the scene as saying, “When you’re dealing with issues of freak circumstances of weather, I don’t know what you can do.” The governor of Indiana called the accident a “fluke.”
One article says that fair officials have not said if the stage and rigging was inspected before the collapse. This seems like the kind of thing they should know. With certainty.
The concert was being held in Indiana. High winds, storms and gusts are not that uncommon in the region. That sort of thing occurs with enough regularity that you’d think public events would consider the possibility as it pertained to human safety. Certain standards would be met and there would be plans to deal with and react to various contingencies, like evacuating under certain conditions.
Was a collapse an unforeseeable event? Hardly. Rolling Stone Music reported that the Indiana State Fair tragedy was the third such event just this summer. It was preceded by an outdoor stage collapse at a Cheap Trick concert in July in Canada and, only a week earlier, an incident at an outdoor concert of the Flaming Lips in Oklahoma where equipment was blown off the stage.
On the same night as the Indiana State Fair tragedy, just 15 miles north, another outdoor concert for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra was evacuated.
Tom Ramsey, the orchestra’s vice president and general manager, said the group reviews information from a private weather company and consults with the National Weather Service, with a goal of giving patrons at least 30 minutes to get to their vehicles if bad weather threatens.
“We saw a storm that contained lightning dip south a little bit. Once we saw that, I made the decision to stop the concert and send everyone to their cars,” he said.
Unlike my coworker, who seems to blame concertgoers for not taking evacuation on their own, I have many questions. Those who conduct public events assume responsibility for taking every precaution to protect the lives of people who attend their events.
I have many questions about this event. I wonder if all that could and should have been done was done. Were all reasonable precautions made? Was the decision to delay canceling the concert the correct one?