Societal death spasms
Neighbor kills neighbor. Don’t worry, though. They will pay for what they’ve done. Especially if they hate the inconvenience of annoying paperwork, attending a couple of hearings and paying a fine. That’s more than sufficient punishment for killing a fellow human being, right?
What is a society? My definition is a system where people make decisions that impact the safety of others. More and more it seems like that’s the only definition that matters.
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Now You’re Cooking: An Airlock Prayer
Admittedly there is at least one major bummer about being an atheist. It’s a pretty big one, too. Quite simply: I’m deprived of a bunch of gods. Dammit. I guess that comes with the territory. So, in self defense, I learned to pray only to the Great Airlock.
“Oh, Great Airlock, please hear my humble plea.”
“I’m sorry, Tom. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
It’s easy to see how the Great Airlock could come in handy. Alas, it never quite works out that way. The Airlock is a cruel god. But you still gotta believe, right?
I’ve pontificated about The Great Airlock in the past. In theory, He represents immutable consequences to choice and action. The origin mythology is exceedingly simple: When the button is pushed the door opens. The door cares not what is on the Other Side. The door cares not if the occupant is ready. The door opens. The results are what they are. Nothing can change that. Nothing. Not even a god.
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It all started when I loaned a friend a hammer. A hammer is a tool typically used for driving metal objects known as nails into various materials like wood. Or so I’ve heard.
For the purpose of this story let’s assume I actually owned a hammer.
If we wanted to (and were sufficiently sick in the head) we could think of this loan as a transaction. The hammer represents the principle, my friend is the debtor and I must be, of course, the bank.
It isn’t too hard to assume my friend is a
debtbeat deadbeat and never returned the bloody thing. Amazingly, even though I dunned him many, many times, and threatened to assess late fees of 1.5 percent on a monthly basis.
Finally that worthless so-and-so left me no recourse. After consulting my voluminous and most accurate
scribbles documentation, I looked up his address and drove across town. I was literally seeing red. My goal? To retrieve the hammer and write the dude off as my friend.
I kicked in his door, tore the place apart, and, having found my precious hammer, I got the hell out of dodge.
The only problem? I made the totally understandable mistake of going to the wrong house. The hammer I repossessed wasn’t even mine. In my defense, it was of similar design. Oops. My bad.
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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?