05 June 2009

Public Blogging & Private Writing, The Willingness to Enter the Fourth Dimension of Time, and Other Pertinent Observations

I have developed a very small but extremely discriminating, lovely, handsome, intelligent, classy (and in a few cases redneck) readership. One measure of that is the noise I get when the time between posts stretches out a bit.

When I was in junior high school, my dad told me that I needed to learn to type. Why, I asked? Don’t big important people have other people to do that stuff for them? There ensued one of the many priceless lessons in self-reliance, humanity and humility and also the physical world benefit that I did indeed learn to type. I was impatient and didn’t wait for a school course, and Dad had a course on 33-1/3 rpm LP’s. [I hope, nay, I pray, that someone will be bewildered by that reference.] I started using his old Royal 440 that he kept on his desk at home, and my fingers have kept tapping since.

When I first was “called to the bar,” it was a tad unusual for lawyers to know how to type. I remember a temporary injunction hearing in Philippi before Judge Luff around 1980 where there was no one available to prepare the temporary injunction I obtained that needed served immediately. (For Four and others, full disclosure requires that I state that it was a restraining order against a large picket line in a strike.) Not a big deal, where’s the typewriter, I asked, and I typed the order. For some reason, Judge Luff found this exceedingly amusing. (The guy wore a red robe, and he found me amusing?)

A day never passes without lots of writing. A day never passes without some of that writing, usually a lot of that writing, being personal/custom in nature, i.e., not legal documents themselves. I enjoy it when that can be in the pure blog form, but circumstances often require that these communications go elsewhere. My trusty dented & scratched Sony laptop has been steadily shuffling electrons into my custom formats over the past couple of weeks, but they all have been for private recipients. Ah, if there is ever such a book as The Collected Correspondence of Roger Curry, what will the people say? [Probably, “Damn, that guy was odd.”]

Inconveniences like the necessity to work, sleep and attend to life in the non-electron world have kept me from time to blog lately. So here I am. I’m still looking for that door into the Fourth Dimension of Time, which will free up unlimited opportunities to write, read and Generally Think Great Thoughts.

The Uniqueness of Workmanship

When Tim was age 2 or so, he started going up to Grandfather’s house to “play shop,” that is, they would vanish to the wood shop for hours and play and incidentally, he would learn motor skills and the use of tools and what a joy it is to make things. As he grew, Tim became a good woodworker, and he and Grandfather collaborated on lots of projects until Grandfather’s death. One of the projects was a lectern which is still used in one of the Courtrooms in the Marion County Courthouse.

While a church a couple of weeks ago, I saw a similar lectern and saw that it had some design features resembling those that Dad used. Well, they always, always signed and dated their work on the bottom, so I turned it over. It was unsigned, but I didn’t need to see that to know that it wasn’t their work. As simple a thing as the type, number and placement of the fasteners (lots of nails only, no glue, rather than 2 screws countersunk at each corner with the joints also glued) made it obvious. It fascinates me that different workmen “leave tracks,” and show different characteristic styles. That’s true on lots of areas. Locally, I can usually identify the work of a couple of architects, a couple of finish carpenters/cabinetmakers, lots of lawyer-writers, lots of judge-writers, some local artists, and so forth. There is uniqueness everywhere.

More on Life Alert® and Other of Those Radio Pendant Things, and Why You Gotta Get Them for Old People

A year or more ago, I strongly recommended the use of those radio pendant things that are advertised for old people who spend time alone. The idea is that they wear a necklace with a small (smaller than a matchbook) radio transmitter and if they get in trouble, they press a button. The pendant transmits to a receiver in the house, and that calls a communications center which determines the problem and gets help.

Right before I had originally recommended them, I had talked to a young doc, an anesthesiologist, in a effort to get some medical backup to convince LaG why these things are a good idea. A short version of what he said is this: Old people have circulation that isn’t great. If they fall and cannot get up, the tissue pressing on the floor starts to die slowly. As tissue dies, it gives off chemicals [he didn’t specify what] that attack the organs of the body and put these people in ICU’s where they are at great risk of dying. His opinion put me over the top, LaG started using one and I still strongly recommend them to others.

Yesterday morning, I received a call from the communications center that LaG had fallen at home. She was unable to get up, and had pushed the button. On the way there, I called 911, owing to her age and medical status. It turned out that she was not seriously hurt, just “walking wounded,” bumps and bruises. The radio thing worked exactly as it should have. This saved at the least a great deal of pain and anguish and at the most a very adverse medical event.

These things cost less than $30 a month, and many hospitals have programs for them.

Oh, an aside - as the paramedic from Rescue 20 (Tim’s company, my old company) was interacting with LaG, I was impressed at how kind and professional she was and chagrined at how very much I have forgotten about patient care over the years. That’s definitely a “use it or lose it” proposition, and when we turned aside a lifetime EMS licensure push in the early 80's, that was the right decision.

Idiocy, Part I:
Whining Idiots

On the “news” recently was a picture of a pretty 11 year old girl and her glowering mother. The girl is a grade schooler whose classmates (other 11 year olds) put a “threatening” video on the internet about her. The “offenders” were punished at school and stuck into some sort of counseling. Not enough, says Mom. My daughter was the brunt of terror, and I want those brats PUNISHED. We’ve been through hell, and so forth.

This is just another symptom of the “I wanna be a victim, too” society. You get attention. The siren song of that is hard to resist. People help you and care for you and care about you. If someone calls you an idiot, others will leap to your defense and point out that they are hard hearted.

And until we kindly tell this Mom and her compatriots to lighten up, have a Coke and a smile, and shut up, we will continue to be distracted by this silly shit.

Idiocy, Part II
Calling Disraeli: Gimme Some Statistics

By God, polling is great. If you satisfy all of the requirements to avoid the pitfalls (clean and large survey population, method to ensure high response, neutral & specific questions), statistics are useful to predict public reaction at a given time to an issue. We have come to love polls and depend on polls. Moreover, polls show us that “we matter,” and that “the people have a voice.”

Indeed, the ideal of America is that the people have a voice. Remember, however, that lots and lots of press, lobbying and advertising is meant to conceal or divert and not to inform. One method of diverting a gullible publish is to overload the public with anything from the uninteresting to the meaningless fol-de-rol (e.g., which actress wore a dress last night that “left nothing to the imagination.”)

I’ve seen a new low in diversion, one that says “You people are soooo stupid, I bet we can run this one past you.” Press and entertainment outlets are running polls about how many people believe trivial things for which there is an objective answer. I saw that in a poll concerning Susan Boyle, the lady amateur singer in Britain, where people were asked if she really had experienced some sort of mental breakdown. 82% didn’t believe it. I have no idea what the facts are, and don’t care. But no matter how many people believed or disbelieved this trivial flea on a gnat’s ass, in the physical world, it is either true or it isn’t.

There are enough problems as it is living by polls. When leaders use polls to determine public policy, they are falling into the old Roman Bread & Circuses routine. There is a view that our economy is a wreck, credit-laden, production-poor, and needs a readjustment that only a depression can bring. [My opinion is not well-informed, as I do not have a sufficient understanding of society-wide economics.] OK, poll that one, and you’ll get perhaps a whopping 3% favorable response. And yet, perhaps it’s true. The International Panel on Climate Change says that it is very likely that human burning of fossil fuel has contributed materially to raising the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere and raising the mean temperature of the planet. Poll that. If you poll anyone but the IPCC and similarly trained scientists, the poll is meaningless.

We as a society are becoming stupider and stupider. The information explosion helps us do that by making unimportant, unsupported, anecdotal, irrelevant and out and out false information available for the taking.

OK, maybe we’re just swimming in ignorance. We’ll soon know. Ignorance can be fixed. Stupidity can’t.


Soon, I will blog in extenso about some personal defense issues. A number of examples have been in the press lately. Consider this one:

In mid-May in Oklahoma City, three teenagers armed with pistols entered a pharmacy to commit a robbery. A late 50's employee behind the counter (retired Air Force officer) pulled a pistol and shot one of them in the head, putting him down but not killing him. (It is unlikely that he was aiming for the head. Few people are that good a shot in those situations.) The other two teens determined that robber was a bad vocational choice and fled. The employee followed them to the door and decided neither to shoot them in the back nor run after them. Then, the employee returned to the counter, got another pistol, came back around the counter and shot the kid on the floor five more times, killing him. The employee has been charged with murder.

Everyone I’ve talked to who is familiar with firearms agrees that the employee was OK up until getting the second gun, and that from then on, his actions were improper. However, opinions of whether those actions were legal or moral were all over the map. We’ll examine those a bit.

Pippa passes.



Blank Field said...

I learned to type in 1959, at Rancho High School. It was a one semester class, full of members of a gender opposite my own. I can't honestly say, which was more important at the time, learning to type or being surrounded by females. But it doesn't matter now: I know how to type, and women are still interesting to me.

Regarding the pharmacy employee, just based on the facts you gave, it does look bleak for him in terms of keeping his freedom. I can't come up with any explanation on his part that makes the use of the second gun, except perhaps the two were conversing and the robber promised that if it was the last thing he did, he would come back and kill the pharmacy employee and all the members of his family he could find. If the pharmacy employee believed in the robber's ability to carry out that promise, then maybe he did the right thing.

aliasmoi said...

Virginia has no self-defense laws, so the shop owner would have been nailed on the very first shot here.