27.8.11

Saving water. Xixi no banho. Women shaving their legs. Men shaving their faces.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8723740/Women-waste-50bn-litres-of-water-shaving-legs-in-shower.html
Research has shown that one in three women leave the shower running while they shave their legs, wasting around 50 billion litres of water a year.
Are hairless legs really so terribly necessary at all times? Plenty of blame to go around for that one - half advertising, half society's need to judge women on their looks, half the big personal-care-products companies trying to make a buck. Ok, that turned into 150% but you get the point.


See a ways below for how much water can be wasted by men shaving every damn day and leaving the water running. Yes, I have been guilty of this and I'm looking for a better solution. I'm also guilty of leaving leaking faucets unrepaired for too long. Working on it.


http://www.xixinobanho.org.br/





http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/water-conservation-tips/


http://eartheasy.com/live_water_saving.htm

9. Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrushThere is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

10. Rinse your razor in the sink
Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.




http://www.phccweb.org/files/PDFs/WaterConservationFacts.pdf
  •  Turning off the water while you brush your teeth can save
  • 4 gallons of water a minute.  That’s 200 gallons a week for
  • a family of four. 
  •  Turning off the water while you shave can save more than
  • 100 gallons of water a week.
  •  Fixing a leak can save 500 gallons of water each month.
  •  Every  toilet flush you eliminate can save between two and
  • seven gallons of water
  •  Taking showers instead of baths can save 30 gallons of
  • water.  Filling the bathtub uses about 50 gallons of water.
  •  Keeping your shower under 5 minutes can save up to 1000
  • gallons a month.
  •  Turning off water while shampooing and conditioning hair can save 50 gallons a week.
  •  Using a water-saving showerhead can save your family 500 gallons a week.
  •  Running your dishwasher and washing machine only when they are filled can save 1,000 gallons a month.
  •  Choosing a water-saving model when replacing a washing machine can save up to 20 gallons
  • per load.
  •  Using a hose nozzle and turning off the water while you wash your car can save more than 100
  • gallons of water.
  •  Choosing a low water use plant when replacing or adding a flower or shrub can save 550 gallons each year.
More info:

26.8.11

Poor security leads to car bomb attack on UN office in Nigeria. 16 dead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/police-large-explosion-near-un-building-in-nigerias-capital-of-abuja/2011/08/26/gIQAe9DefJ_story.html




Witnesses told The Associated Press that a sedan rammed through two separate gates at the U.N. compound as guards tried to stop the vehicle. The suicide bomber inside crashed the car into the main reception area and detonated the explosives, inflicting the most damage possible, a spokesman for the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency said.
“This is getting out of hand,” said a U.N. staffer who identified himself as Bodunrin. “If they can get into the U.N. House, they can reach anywhere.”
Bullcrap. If they can get into the U.N. House, they can reach anywhere that someone has set up two flimsy gates that can easily be rammed through by someone driving a sedan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)
sedan (American English) or saloon car (British EnglishIrish EnglishNew Zealand English) is a passenger car in a three-box configuration with A, B & C-pillars and principal volumes articulated in separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo. The passenger compartment features two rows of seats and adequate passenger space in the rear compartment for adult passengers.
Granted, some sedan cars are fairly heavy and make great battering rams. Put a bunch of heavy explosives in the car and get it up to speed on a straightaway and you have yourself quite the inertia-laden missile. You won't be able to steer it very well, but it'll make a dent at least in most concrete barriers.

What we can deduce from the above quotes in WaPo is that the sedan was able to accelerate on a straight road into one barrier, and then do the same to another. Either the barriers were made of balsa wood, or there was no concrete "chicane" zig-zag or the people who designed the checkpoint thought they'd never have to deal with anything more serious than politely asking someone to stop their car so they can check their papers. Probably just a metal boom that you lower and raise - fairly easy to just smash out of the way unless it's properly anchored on both sides. The security guards were obviously not ready to use their weapons against someone who refuses to stop.

"...guards tried to stop the vehicle." By doing what? Offering the driver some tea and crumpets?

Whoever was in charge of that UN operation got caught with their pants down. The person who said "Oh no, we don't want too much security - it's so inconvenient and we don't want to appear intimidating or not open to the public" is now akin to a liberal who's been robbed, i.e. a new conservative.

No security operation will ever be airtight. There will always be holes. You can infiltrate the guards. There's always construction going on somewhere, or you can choose an easier target. The point of security is to make yourself a target that's not worth attacking. If I was a UN employee somewhere in the world I'd be very concerned about the ability of someone to park a truck full of explosives right next to my building - or to breach the security perimeter with a car full of explosives.

16 dead in Nigeria. Two flimsy gates in a straight line with clear approach. No cement blocks. No zig-zag.


EDIT: From the video at http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/deadly-blast-at-nigerian-un-building/2011/08/26/gIQAAEe0fJ_video.html it seems that the sedan was able to make a straight run up to a high gate that either recessed horizontally or swung open on hinges, and then smashed aside the aforementioned vertical boom-type barrier. Both were in line with each other. There were no concrete blocks forcing the driver to zig-zag.

So now what? Fix your crap, UN. Africa is a cess-pit of violence, famine, poor governance, over-population, bandits like the Lord's Resistance Army and messed-up economic prospects due to culture, barriers to trade (hello, EU Common Agricultural Policy) and legacies of mismanagement following the retreat of colonialism - which itself was bad enough. A situation ripe for crazy right-wing American evangelicals and crazy jihadist Muslim propaganda. It's gonna get worse before it gets better - esp. given how much money and food aid various outside groups continue to pump in to make themselves feel better. We vote with our dollars. We create aid dependencies. We give and give and give to perpetuate problems so that we then have to give more. We try to stop violence so that there are never any clear victors that can set about re-building society. What a mess.

EDIT 2:
Looks like a straight shot from the road outside through both gates/barriers.

UPDATE: 21 dead. In the above poorly formatted satellite image (top right is a blowup/zoom of the rectangle labeled "UN building" in the bottom part of the composite image) the first, main gate appears to be some distance away from the actual building - the part shaped as a 3-sided cross or a "Y". So what you have is a straight, uncontrolled, unsecured outside road that leads straight at a flimsy gate that's mostly there to stop people on foot and for show. Followed by another straight shot at gate number two followed immediately by a poorly secured and apparently in the "up" position boom-type device right next to the building.

UN security people - you fucked up. Possibly aided and abetted by a bunch of bleeding-heart extreme liberal types more concerned with not appearing "security-obsessed" and maintaining an "open-door, close-to-the-people approach." I'm all for being nice and friendly and not hiding behind massive walls all the time, but targets like official buildings in countries with active terror groups need to be hardened to some degree. At least put in some 1m-tall cement barriers so they'll have to use a tracked vehicle or a purpose-built truck to get through. It's not about making attacks impossible - it's about making them harder to pull off for less effect.

25.8.11

Tim Cook, new CEO of Apple, Inc. - may or may not be gay.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/25/idUS422760388920110825

Tim Cook
Steve Jobs is out as head of Apple, Inc. Tim Cook is taking over - he's a workaholic who's always been intensely private about his personal life.

Internet tabloids are falling all over themselves trying to get him out of the closet and into the forefront of the gay agenda movement.

Tim Cook, Steve Jobs and... don't know.
Let him be. Let him get established and run a successful business. Let him do things the way he wants to do them. He knows what's best for him - further digging for dirt into his personal life could:

A. Reveal something no-one wants revealed.
B. Produce a backlash against Apple products worldwide.
C. Provide the gay agenda pushers with some limited political/publicity traction in the current American culture wars.

Is (C) above really so important that you're willing to jeopardize his company and his job in a worldwide business sense? Sure, transparency might be a great idea in the context of domestic American politics - we could use a little more of that.

But let's not force anyone out of any closet that they want to stay inside of. Until he starts doing some nasty evil crap, that is. Like some certain congressmen etc.

The people pushing for "outing" Tim Cook are shooting themselves, Apple and their own movement in the foot. Get a grip. Chill out. Let things happen in their own due time. Rush this and you can do all kinds of damage to Apple the company in the real world.

P.S. I'm straight. Don't really care what your preference is. What people do between consenting adults in the privacy of their home or club or hang-out is their business, not mine. If you want to change the law to allow same-sex marriage, by all means put it on the ballot and let's get some votes on it. If you want a civil right to civil unions I can see that being legitimate in a "No Discrimination" sort of way - but let's not force churches and religious organizations to perform same-sex weddings. Respect the beliefs of others and maybe they'll respect yours.

That said most of this debate seems to be rooted in religion. Yuck.

22.8.11

Comparative Cultural Studies 101: Is your culture stupid?

Or more grammatically (?) correct, rather - does your culture encourage rampant displays of outrageous stupidity?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14616491
Three people in the Philippines died due to stray bullets fired to welcome the arrival of the new year 2011.
In 2010 a Turkish bridegroom killed three relatives when he fired an AK-47 at his own wedding. 
When the Iraqi football team defeated Vietnam in 2007's Asia Cup, three people were killed in Baghdad amid widespread gunshots as fans celebrated. Celebratory gunfire in Kuwait after the end of the Gulf War in 1991 was blamed for 20 deaths.
US study found that 118 people were treated for random "falling-bullet injuries" at one Los Angeles medical centre between 1985 and 1992, resulting in the deaths of 38. 
Question: Do people in your nation/state/culture/country/region regularly celebrate things like New Year's Eve, winning a football match, or a wedding - by firing automatic or semi-automatic weapons in the air?

Answer: No. You're fine, go on to the next question.

Answer: Yes. You're irretrievably fucked. You are stupid for not banding together with your fellow reasonable-headed citizens and putting a stop to it. At least get a damn law on the books. A city ordinance. Get the dead people's picture on the front page of the local newspaper with a headline saying "Hey idiots - you fired in the air and you killed these people."


Q: Are people in your part of the world usually educated by priests or mullahs that get most of their teaching done with religious texts?


Answer: No. You're fine, go on to the next question.


Answer: Yes. You're probably fucked if the best idea anyone could come up with for teaching kids was reading out of a 1500-year-old book about sacrificing goats, keeping your woman in the kitchen and killing people who don't think like you think. Not that you think much. Or read this.


The rest of the questions would have to do with equal rights for women and people who are in the minority, i.e. Jews in 1930s Germany, Christians in Egypt, guest-workers in the Arab world, LGBT people in Syria, Arabs in Israel or Palestinians living under the military occupation of Israel - to name but a few examples. Add something about corruption and it's starting to look like a decent quiz.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebratory_gunfire#Notable_incidents
  • July 22, 2003: More than 20 people were reported killed in Iraq from celebratory gunfire following the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons Udayand Qusay in 2003.[16]
  • December 31, 2004: A 75-year-old man in Orlando, Florida, was mortally wounded in the heart from a falling bullet just before midnight. Police later traced the fatal bullet to a gun confiscated from a man firing into the air more than a mile away. The shooter was charged with manslaughter.[19]
  • January 1, 2005: A stray bullet hit a young girl during New Year celebrations in the central square of downtown SkopjeMacedonia. She died two days later. This incident led to the 2006 IANSA awareness campaign in that country.[1]
  • February 25, 2007: Five people were killed by stray bullets fired at a kite festival in LahorePakistan, including a 6-year-old schoolboy who was struck in the head near his home in the city's Mazang area.[23]
  • July 29, 2007: At least four people were reported killed and 17 others wounded by celebratory gunfire in the capital city of BaghdadIraq, following the victory of the national football team in the AFC Asian Cup,[24][25] Celebratory gunfire occurred despite warnings issued by Iraqi security forces and the country's leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who forbade the gunfire with a religious fatwā.[26]
In other news the definition of Comparative Cultural Studies at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_cultural_studies is an ivory-tower mish-mash full of crap:
Comparative cultural studies is a contextual approach to the study of culture in a global and intercultural context. The focus of the studies is placed on the theory, method, and application of the study process(es) rather than on the "what" of the object(s) of study.
How about this instead: Comparative cultural studies is about comparing different cultures. Revolutionary thought, right? - To see what we can all learn from each other's cultures. Yay.


Oh wait, no - that'd make sense. Better go with the convoluted definition using big words that only the people on the inside of the PhD circle understand. We have to focus on the theory and theoretical framework rather than any base and simplistic real-world applied approach. After all - we have to protect our funding and our academic position, am I right?

Arrrgh. If someone knows how to make breaks between paragraphs appear slightly less huge sometimes, I'd love to know. This blogging software seems a bit random in that respect.


THIS JUST IN - FOUR IN A ROW!


If you've had your head in the sand for a year - that's Ben Ali, Saleh, Ghaddafi and Mubarak at the Arab-African Summit last year. They're ALL gone now.
That would be the former dictators of Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Egypt. To hell with them all.

21.8.11

Libya is free. More good things coming. Maybe. Or possibly bad things.

Ghaddafi is on his last few blocks of Tripoli - the rebels are victorious, have captured his heir apparent and will presumably either drive out Ghaddafi or capture him. Or he'll be killed in a shootout or there'll be a siege or some drama. 
Live updates here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14610722


Ghaddafi no longer really matters - that's what's important. The future now becomes a hodge podge of tribal loyalties, religion, oil, money, mercenaries, weapons, desert, roads and all kinds of personalities. With a little luck things will go the way of Egypt and at least there'll be some sort of elections and expression of the will of the people. I'd rather deal with elected Muslim Brotherhood type people than unelected dictators.


Sic semper tyrannis.

More good things:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/21/us-palestinians-hamas-finance-idUSTRE77K18320110821
(Reuters) - Iran has cut back or even stopped its funding of Hamas after the Islamist movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, failed to show public support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats said on Sunday...
In a sign of a cash crunch, the Hamas government in Gaza has failed to pay the July salaries of its 40,000 employees in the civil service and security forces. Hamas leaders promised full payments in August, but not all employees received their wages as scheduled on Sunday.

In 2010, Hamas put its Gaza budget at $540 million, with local revenues from taxes on merchants and on goods brought in from Israel and through smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border accounting for only $55 million.
With a bit of luck this'll force a moderation in a cash-crunched Hamas with less and less Iranian money to go around. You can't run a terror network largesse system costing $540 million per year with revenues of only $55 million. The numbers might be off by an order of magnitude, but the general direction of the development is hard to ignore. No more Iranian money - tons of trouble for Hamas, which is a good thing for the people of Gaza and the people of the Middle East as a whole.

19.8.11

"In our tradition and culture, it is impossible to search women."

The intelligence suggested that a suicide bomber and at least two vehicles were attempting to make their way from Kabul's Paghman district to the centre of the city to carry out an attack. Police sources said the intelligence was not very specific and did not provide the location of the intended target.
"They managed to enter in the early hours of morning," intelligence and police sources said. "Most of them were wearing burkas, posing as a family. In our tradition and culture, it is impossible to search women."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14585563


 The solution isn't to ban burkas and culture-specific clothing. It's to get it into people's heads that no-one is above suspicion.


I'm not above suspicion just because I'm White, dress like an ex-pat, have an ID badge around my neck and seem to know important people that security guards report to.


You're not above suspicion because you're a woman.


He's not above suspicion just because he's a tribal elder or part of an important person's entourage.


No Imam or religious person is above suspicion.


No uniformed personnel is above suspicion.

18.8.11

Cult leader arrives in Spain. Israel bombs Gaza in retaliation for terror attacks.

Leader of the world's biggest cult.
Cult leader Pope Benedict the 16th arrived in Madrid today, at the Spanish taxpayers' expense. He brought his message of no condoms for Africans, no accountability for sex abuse by priests and rampant hypocrisy for the joy and benefit of the Spanish people.

FFI:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedict_XVI#Positions_on_moral_and_political_issues
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases_by_country
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_abuse_scandal_in_Miami_archdiocese

IN OTHER NEWS
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14577593
Israeli jets pounded the Gaza strip in retaliation for militants (Hamas or Gazans or Egyptian something) opening fire on buses traveling in extreme Southern Israel, close to the Egyptian border and the Red Sea. I have no sympathy for Hamas - but inevitably civilians on both sides will suffer in conflicts like these. Pushing the people that live in Gaza further into extremism and hatred will just make things worse for Israel in the long run.

Simple Solution (tm):

  • 1967 borders, including through Jerusalem. Or Yerushaláyim or Al-Quds if you prefer.
  • Negotiated return for some, but not all, refugees. Give them back the property they left behind and start treating Arabs living inside the borders of Israel as equal in all aspects, including compulsory military service.
  • Crackdown on US organizations and individuals supplying money to settlers who insist on constructing on or taking over land on other people's property, i.e. West Bank religious nutcases and fanatics. It needs to be illegal to support these people and fund them, just as it needs to be illegal for people in the Gulf States and Arab/Muslim world to fund Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
  • If you want to build a border fence or wall along the 1967 borders, go right ahead. If you want it to go elsewhere you'd better be prepared to offer something in return, be it money or land elsewhere.
  • Israel and Palestine and their neighbours can be either racially and religiously homogenous - or they can be democratic, not both. Sure there are grey areas. Egypt wants to call itself an Islamic democracy, but that's a contradiction in terms, just like the idea of a Jewish democratic state implies racial/religious cleansing.


Either case, compared to its neighbours the state of Israel is a shining light in the darkness of religious and ethnic persecution. The Arab and Muslim world is still stuck in the Dark Ages.

11.8.11

“It works with molecules. It functions with the energy of the body.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/world/americas/16mexico.html


Stupidity and superstition is everywhere. People have walked on water. Demons and angels are all around you and God the Almighty Lord once made a woman pregnant without anyone having sex with her.


Some of the above statements may not be true. Depending on what 1500-year-old book you believe in. Or don't believe in. Some of the below statements may not be true, depending on how much of what you read on the internet you believe in.


Mexico’s National Defense Secretariat has spent more than $10 million to purchase hundreds of the detectors, similar to the “magic wands” in use in Iraq and Afghanistan, for its antidrug fight. Although critics have called them nothing more than divining rods, Mexican defense officials praise the devices as a critical part of their efforts to combat drug traffickers. At the military’s National Drug Museum, one of the devices is on display, with a plaque that describes its success in finding hidden caches of drugs.
Mexican military officials say the black plastic wands, known as the GT 200 and manufactured by the British company Global Technical Ltd., are widely used nationwide at checkpoints to search for contraband inside vehicles as well as to canvass neighborhoods in drug hotspots for drug and weapons stash houses.
As of April 20, 2009, the army had purchased 521 of the GT 200 detectors for just over $20,000 apiece, for a total cost of more than $10 million, according to Mexican government documents. Police agencies across Mexico have made additional purchases, records show.
“Exports to Mexico have already taken place, and the most urgent task was to warn the Mexican government and military, which we have done,” Katy Reid, a British diplomat in Mexico, said in a statement on Friday. “It is now up to the Mexican authorities to take whatever steps they think appropriate.” 
 In Culiacán, a city in Sinaloa State where Mexican drug traffickers have a strong presence, the military showed off the GT 200 in December. Canvassing a residential neighborhood, soldiers walked up and down the street with a GT 200 waiting for the antenna to point toward a suspicious residence. There were no discoveries.
But the soldier trained to operate the detector walked by one of the army’s armored vehicles and the antenna swung quickly toward the high-caliber machine gun sticking out the top. He took several steps back and walked by again. The antenna pointed again toward the gun.
“See?” he said.
But in November, at a checkpoint on the highway leading from Mexico City to Monterrey, the same device pointed at a Volkswagen containing a man, a woman and a child. Soldiers surrounded the vehicle and a search was conducted for illegal drugs. But all they found was a bottle of Tylenol — evidence, the soldier operating the device said, of how sensitive the GT 200 was.
More reading:

You look at the world around and you see something that's not happening - like finding drugs or no rain coming. So you wave a wand around or dance around a fire and then you find some drugs or the rains come. Obviously the wand or the dancing must've helped, right?

No. You're looking at a small sample size and not looking at the whole picture. You're not verifying your procedure for finding the drugs or making it rain. You're not putting your theory up for open debate and discussion in a way that allows people to prove it correct or wrong. Your sample size of one is simply not relevant or very useful in the greater scheme of things.

Start waving wands at a bunch of vehicles, eventually one of them will have drugs in it. Or you can just roll dice instead. 


Kid who can't swim goes with a church group and plays in the ocean. He gets dragged out and under and stays there for 20min. People in the church group are praying. Lifeguards are racing around in the water trying to find him. The lifeguards find him and get him to the hospital. He starts breathing on his own and wakes up and has no apparent mental deficiencies as a result of his brain having no oxygen replenishment for 20 minutes.

The prayer-people attribute the result to the power of prayer and God and angels and all that.

Others might conclude that going into the ocean when you don't know how to swim is a bad idea and that people's brains can sometimes suffer apparently no ill effects from sometimes prolonged submersion in cold water.



Case history
A fit young woman was cross country skiing with friends when she fell down a water filled gully and became trapped beneath an ice sheet. Frantic efforts were made to extract her, but after 40 minutes all movements ceased. Her body was eventually recovered, one hour and 19 minutes later, through a hole cut in the ice downstream. She was pronounced dead at the scene, but was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation throughout the air ambulance flight back to hospital, where her rectal temperature was recorded as 13.7°C. Her body was rewarmed by means of an extracorporeal membrane oxygenator. After 35 days on a ventilator and a further five months of rehabilitation, she was able to resume her job as a hospital doctor.
Normally a person's brain will start dying within 6 minutes of no oxygen replacement. If submerged in water, the colder the better apparently, this time can greatly increase.

Or you can just attribute it to the molecules and the "energy of the body" or magic or God or angels or prayer. Your choice.

Either case thank a Lifeguard next time you see one. I used to be one, an EMT-B and rescue diver. We were always taught not to give up on a person who's been submerged in water, they can sometimes come back to life with some help. Or a lot of help.


8.8.11

Mexico. South America. Drugs & immigrants going North. Cash & guns going South.

Legalize marijuana. Tax the hell out of it. Start tracking guns properly and stop selling assault rifles except to duly licensed people who really need them (ranchers?). If you really need an assault rifle to protect yourself, your family and your property, then you should also have a license and have to present the weapon to your local sheriff or at least a notary every year.

Work harder to stop the flow of money, ammo and guns going south. Reduce barriers to trade to give the countries south of the border a more level playing field on which to compete in things like citrus, basic industries, legal crops (rice, wheat) and stop subsidizing industries that can't compete in the US without thievery from the pockets of the taxpayer. Your special interest community doesn't automatically have the right to have everyone else in society foot the bill for your protected way of life. Just because your parents were able to make a living farming doesn't automatically mean the rest of us should pay to make sure that it's still profitable for you to do so.



I don't know exactly how much of agricultural subsidies go to the big agri-business companies, but I don't think we're really supporting the mom-and-pop farmers that are so beloved and featured heavily in ads from this or that political action group.


The US seems to have to work very hard to make a dent in the trafficking of people going North. It's simply not cost-effective to completely seal the border. George W. Bush may have had it right in his immigration reform initiatives.


So-called "hard" drugs like heroin and cocaine and meth will have to remain illegal most likely. I'd love to be able to say that what you put into your body is your business, but fact is that this **** turns you into a raging, homicidal and robbing maniac that can only be stopped by a bullet, incarceration for the rest of your life or long and expensive treatment programs. Touch meth once and you're most likely going to be an unproductive member of society for the rest of your life, and you'll sell your child, kill innocent people or rob your own family just to get the money for one more hit.


If you want to cross the border you should have to provide finger prints and a DNA sample and be photographed. Sorry - you do not have a constitutional right to enter this country without providing law enforcement with the records to link you conclusively to any crime that you might commit.

3.8.11

Woman dies in 600ft fall in Yosemite. Family question why Park Rangers didn't do more to stop her.

"Never Speak Ill of the Dead."
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/08/14th-death-in-yosemite-this-year-prompts-concerns-from-rangers.html
Haley LaFlamme, 26
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/state&id=8282735
The grieving family of a Bay Area hiker wants to know why there is not more supervision for climbers at Yosemite National Park's Half Dome. San Ramon resident Haley LaFlamme, 25, fell to her death on Sunday. She is the second person from that city to die at Half Dome in the last two years.
According to family members, LaFlamme was very much looking forward to scaling the cables at Half Dome again. She had taken the same route a year ago in weather that appeared much better than what LaFlamme and three friends encountered Sunday.
"The granite was really slick; Haley was traveling down from the summit with her party of three when she fell," park spokesperson Kari Cobb said. 
In an email to ABC7, one of LaFlamme's family members questioned whether rangers should do more to protect visitor safety and warn climbers of potential hazards, including lightning storms.
"We have signs posted; it's up to the visitor to assess the safety," Cobb said.
 http://www.englishclub.com/ref/esl/Sayings/Quizzes/Talking_2/Never_speak_ill_of_the_dead_933.htm

"Never speak ill of the dead" - ancient proverb.

Meaning: Show respect to people who have died by not saying anything bad about them. Since dead people can no longer hurt us, or defend themselves, it is better to forget their bad actions and remember only their good ones.
Origin: This proverb has been traced back to Chilon of Sparta (6th century BC). The Latin version was "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" ("Of the dead say nothing but good").
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-group%E2%80%93out-group_bias
In-group–out-group bias, also called intergroup bias, refers to the phenomenon of in-group favoritism, a preference and affinity for one’s in-group over the out-group, or anyone viewed as outside the in-group. This can be expressed in evaluation of others, linking, allocation of resources and many other ways.[1] This interaction has been researched by many psychologists and linked to many theories related to group conflict and prejudice. 
Families "can't understand" how their little boy would "do such a thing." A wife swears that her husband could never have tried to rob anyone in Pakistan, saying "he was not a criminal." The friends of a killer of 80-some people say "that's not the person I knew. He would never have done that. I don't understand."

"Never speak ill of the dead" is a fairly strong social taboo against talking trash about people who can't defend themselves. A time of great personal loss is a time of mourning and respect. The problem is this taboo keeps us from learning valuable lessons.

Such as don't get in a Porsche with a drunk driver - even if that person is your friend and a minor "Jackass" movie celebrity. He might just step on the accelerator and off you go, now you're dead and your friend is dead and your family and fans are hurt and unhappy.


Or the lesson that steep rocks get slippery when wet and if you don't have the gear to protect yourself and you're not roped up and clipped in and have the grip strength to grab on to a cable and arrest yourself - then don't go climbing up a really steep cliff in the rain.

So here's me breaking that social taboo:

1. Instead of asking why the Park Rangers didn't "supervise" your now dead daughter better - ask yourself why you raised a daughter to believe that she could climb up a steep cliff in the rain with only a tiny little cable to hold on to.


2. Instead of looking for someone to place blame on, look for a way to educate and help others avoid your situation. Tell mothers and fathers to teach their kids to become strong, risk-aware, risk-assessing people who are capable of being the one person in a group of friends who stands up and says "Hey guys, I don't think this is safe, we need more gear or we need to wait til the weather gets better."


3. Ask if it's really necessary to install cables going up a steep cliff - does this just enable people who have no business or training to be on the sharp end of a cliff (or the sharp end of anything, for that matter) - does it lull them into a false sense of security that this is just another Disneyland ride and Big Brother will be there to protect them? Should some things remain so dangerous-looking that people, even "city folk" in fact realize that they really are dangerous?


4. Ask if you can donate money to put up a wooden sign reading, in official-looking Park Service style: "This many people have died around this area since 19XX." Followed by a nice simple tally of marks in the wood.


5. Ask if you can donate a sign saying "On July 28th, 2011, our daughter Haley LaFlamme died on this path while hiking in the rain. She was 26 years old and we loved her very much. Please don't let this happen to your family."


A few years ago a group of about 40 people witnessed another hiker fall to his death in the same area. They were so scared that they refused to come down by themselves and were eventually rescued - I don't know if it was by helicopter (I hope not, that's hugely expensive and that money comes out of park fees and taxpayer's money) or more likely by competent personnel hiking up there and holding their hands on the way down. In an ideal world, if it was up to me, I'd just rather have left those people up there. Eventually hunger will drive you to come down on your own. Every one of those people had gotten themselves up there under their own power. You can get down the same way. Park Rangers have better things to do and don't get paid enough and there's not enough money to go around taking care of all the things that a National Park legitimately needs.


A few weeks ago three people climbed over a railing and went out to pose for a picture on a rock by a fast-flowing river in Yosemite. The girl slipped. One guy reached for her and fell in. Then the other guy slipped, too. The bodies have not been found - they are presumed to have been swept over a 220-foot water fall.


"But the government should do something!"


"It's not my fault!"


"Why didn't <authority> stop this?"


Well, you've got a finite amount of money to go around. All that money comes from taxes and fees and has to pay for all kinds of things besides trying to stop people from doing dangerous things that can kill them. If you really think the Park Service is wrong here, then by all means sue them. Or join them and change how they operate from the inside. Or take it up with your local elected representative and have a public debate about it. Write a blog post about it.


Or just complain about it. Which is kind of what I'm doing, so I can't really criticize you for complaining.


Haley LaFlamme was 25 or 26 years old (sources differ) and seems like a positive, good, good-looking young woman. All I can tell from pictures is that she liked hiking, had friends and seems fairly fit.


This doesn't have to happen to you or your family. Talk about safety. Talk about risk-assessment and risk-taking behaviour. Talk about strength and getting ready for emergencies. Talk about grip strength and proper equipment. Talk about weather and how it can kill you out in the wilderness.

2.8.11

Role model of the day.

Ok, this may or may not have been the best course of action when confronted by an angry black bear, but it sure beats the kind of celebrities most people look up to these days.