Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Disasters, Debacles, and Stuff that Went Wrong

Hollywood, mercifully, is no longer making "Airport" movies. But people were fascinated by disasters before George Seaton committed a screenplay for that Hailey novel.

We still are.

Since the Lemming has posted about a few disasters, I thought a sort of link page might be useful. To the Lemming, anyway.

Rants, Fury, (Self?) Righteous Indignation and Big Peanut

The Lemming has ranted a few times: but I try to find out what I'm upset about, before launching a tirade.

Take "Peanut Peril," for example. Three of the nine deaths were in my state, Minnesota: and over a dozen cases of tainted food went to the school my kids have gone to. As I said at the time, "I'm not happy about this."

It was obvious that something had gone hideously wrong with some (not all) of America's peanut products. But at that point we didn't know where the occasionally-lethal toxins were coming from - and neither, I think, did the authorities.

Later, the poison peanut products were traced back to one company. Operated by a really, really, foolish man. Or one who made a monumentally foolish decision, at any rate.

As I wrote at the time:
'If You Liked Our Salmonella, You'll Love Our Rat Poop'
It looks like Mr. Parnell, the Peanut Corporation of America boss, forgot one of the cardinal rules of business: Don't poison the end user...."
(February 14, 2009)

Mr Parnell's decision to sell tainted peanuts cost nine people their lives. That was wrong, and I think that, eventually, American law and custom will sanction that sort of inadvertent homicide: more severely than is the case now.

I also hope that, eventually, the American Congress will realize that regulations and laws are useless unless our legislators also allocate money for inspectors. Which is getting into several different topics, from politics to economics and psychology.
(Self?) Righteous Indignation at Those Awful People Over There
When I was growing up:
  • Someone in a movie who had an eastern-European accent was almost certainly a bad guy
  • Quite a few Americans were convinced that 'the Commies' were behind 'it'
    • 'It' being anything they didn't like:
      • Rock music
      • Long hair
      • The economy
      • Beards
      • Whatever
  • Most women didn't wear pants or slacks
That was then. Today's America isn't like that. Which suits me just fine, for the most part. Some things have improved. On the other hand, the very human impulse to hate people is still very much with us.

Back in my 'good old days,' America was flushing the last of WWII-era anti-Japanese propaganda out of its system. Which was, I think, a good idea. Japan, like any other country, has its problems: but I can't see that as an excuse for sweeping condemnation of Japan.

Thinking with the Frontal Cortex, Not the Endocrine System

It's easy enough for me to think that way, since I don't have strong, unpleasant, emotions associated with Japan.

The idea that emotions and reason don't play well together has been around for quite a while - and now we're starting to discover some of the neurological reasons for that. ("Emotions, the Frontal Cortex, The War on Terror, Anarchists, and the Illuminati," Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008))

I'm as likely to get emotional about something, as anyone else. I try, though, to avoid basing opinions on how I'm feeling at the moment. I think that's because I've seen so many people spouting nonsense about 'the Commies' or some other big, bad bogeyman.

Ranting about 'those people,' and blaming them for what ails the world is, I think, often partnered with a sort of self-righteousness that does no good to the person expressing it - or to that person's cause. Which is why I try to avoid ranting about Big Peanut, those wicked Japanese, Yankee imperialism, or - of course - the Commies. I've posted about this before:

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