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The spectrum of good and evil - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Oct. 13th, 2010

06:33 pm - The spectrum of good and evil

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Wow.

At one end of the spectrum, we have Gene Cranick of Obion County, Tennessee, who lost everything because the fire department wouldn't lift a finger to help him, and stood and watched and let his house burn to the ground and his pets die, because he didn't understand that the "optional" $75/year fee they wanted was actually a Mafia-style pizzo.

At the other end, we have 33 miners in Copiapó, Chile, who were trapped in heat and darkness two thousand milesfeet (d'oh!) below the surface of the earth for over two months... and today they're still alive and well and have all been pulled out of the mine one by one with a custom-designed rescue capsule.

Humans have incredible capacities for cruelty on the one hand, and compassion on the other.

Comments:

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From:neuracnu
Date:October 14th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)

and back on the evil side...

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...for the headline of their news story on the event, CNN is using the phrase "miner miracle."
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 01:25 am (UTC)

Re: and back on the evil side...

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Blarg!
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From:xakko
Date:October 14th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
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interestingly, there are a number of commentators that are holding the house fire as an example of the "pay for spray" policy working.

your own mileage may vary.
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From:barberio
Date:October 14th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
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In which case, they're really stupid commentators, who also missed the fact that the fire eventually spread to a near by building who's owner had paid their protection-fee. Fire's ignorance of property boundaries is why this crap doesn't work.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
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Exactly. And I've heard some comments along the lines of "If I lived there, and I saw the fire department putting out his fire for free, I'd feel that my $75 had been wasted!"

As for me, if I lived next door to Gene Cranick, I wouldn't be thinking about money that day; I'd want them to put out his fire so it wouldn't spread to my property!
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From:orv
Date:October 14th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
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Well, to a certain strain of objectivist libertarian, it's exactly how the world should work in general.
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From:palabrajot
Date:October 14th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC)
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I would think that even if I did support a pay-for-spray model, wouldn't it be common sense to put the fire out anyway, and then worry about assessing a penalty fee against the homeowner for not buying into this protection racket in the first place, rather than just standing around like a casting call for a goddamn fireman calendar shoot?
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From:xakko
Date:October 14th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
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apparently the guy was offering to pay the total cost of the fire department's expenditures too. not that you can guarantee the fire dept. wouldn't have had to take the guy to court to follow up on that, but, as one conservative pointed out, they were there, with the equipment, they should have put out the fire and gotten the money later. a doctor might scoff at a patient offering to pay back health insurance premiums before doing surgery, but when they offer to pay for the whole shebang? Prep for surgery...
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From:nefaria
Date:October 14th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
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I'm wondering why the guy refused to pay the $75 annaul fees even though he had no other method of fire control available.

Count me among the libertarian-leaning folks who believe people should have the right to make stupid decisions provided they're willing to accept the unpleasant outcomes of those decisions if their luck goes bad.
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From:alfador_fox
Date:October 14th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
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He didn't pay because HE DIDN'T KNOW. They'd done away with the practice a long time ago, then reinstated it and nobody told him.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
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Is that true? I heard somewhere that he just forgot and was late with his payment this one time.

Of course, both possibilities indicate that it was not a case of "he REFUSED to pay"...
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From:alfador_fox
Date:October 15th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
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http://thecabin.net/news/local/2010-10-14/local-recalls-watching-home-burn-ground-when-fd-refused-respond

Though city officials had at one time served areas outside the city limit with fire protection — for a fee — they had stopped the practice. Unbeknownst to Day, he said, officials had put such a plan back into place.

“I would have gladly reinstated the policy if I had just known,” he said.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 15th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
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Er... that's about a different guy, though.
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From:alfador_fox
Date:October 15th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
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BLARGH. I misread the article and almost all of it is about the 1979 event rather than this one. ARRRRGH I fail at factchecking.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 15th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
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No, no, don't be aware of your mistake, or Fox News will never hire you!
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From:alfador_fox
Date:October 16th, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
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...I can live with that.
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From:doodlesthegreat
Date:October 14th, 2010 05:21 am (UTC)
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two thousand miles below the surface of the earth

You may wish to correct that. They'd be in magma by that point...
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
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D'oh! Fixed.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 07:37 am (UTC)
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Well, I did say it was hot down there. :}
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:October 14th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
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I agree the fire department was evil here (though how much blame to the firemen on scene and how much to the officials who set the policy is another question).

But -- why did the pets need firemen to rescue them? Why didn't they just run out? Were they crated dogs or 'indoor only' cats confined because their owners thought the outside world was too dangerous?

Or, I hope, were the pets a late, false addition to the story?
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 07:02 am (UTC)
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They were probably trapped by flames, perhaps in an upstairs bedroom. That sort of thing tends to happen when a house catches fire.
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From:orv
Date:October 14th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
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Cats, in particular, tend to react to fires the same way they react to everything unusual and scary — by hiding in a closet somewhere. Sadly, while this is sometimes an effective way to avoid being taken to the vet, it is not an effective way to escape a fire. :P
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From:orv
Date:October 14th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
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I think there's also a debate to be had about whether a firefighter should be risking their life to save an animal's life. I'm not sure where I come down on that one; I certainly wouldn't blame a firefighter who decided not to go into a fully engulfed house to look for a lost cat. I do wonder what would have happened if a person had been trapped in there, though. Would the answer still have been, "sorry, you didn't pay your $75!"
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From:deckardcanine
Date:October 14th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
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I'd heard that the firefighters were hamstrung by legislation, but to me that's only a mitigating factor. Better to get in some trouble with your superiors than anger everyone else in the neighborhood.

Nevertheless, this differs from a pizzo in that a mafia would do something to make your situation worse than if you hadn't dealt with them at all.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)
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Standing and watching while his house burns down; that sounds like "making his situation worse" to me.
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From:alfador_fox
Date:October 15th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
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Agreed.
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From:deckardcanine
Date:October 15th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
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Emotionally, I suppose so. (Empathy isn't my strong suit.)
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From:alfador_fox
Date:October 14th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
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Somebody should commit arson on the property of all those firefighters. I'm not even joking.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 14th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
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No. Their boss. And/or the city manager of South Fulton. Whoever told those firefighters not to help the guy.
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From:alfador_fox
Date:October 15th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
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All of them. A firefighter who will stand in front of someone's home with the means and ability to put out the fire, and watch it burn to the ground because of a bureaucratic technicality, is NOT WORTHY OF THE TITLE OF FIREFIGHTER.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 15th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
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Good point.
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From:bikerwalla
Date:October 17th, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
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We have over here in New Jersey, the governor canceling an under-Hudson rail tunnel project, stranding motorists for 30 more years in the hell that is North-Jersey-to-NYC commuting. Because if he actually went ahead with it, it would have revealed that the multi-billion-dollar highway construction fund is really a giant empty bank vault with a few IOU slips littering the floor, due to years and years of assemblymen saying "the voters won't LET us raise the taxes we need" while lining their own pockets by borrowing against the highway fund for their own pet projects.

Over there in Switzerland, the people voted to pay even more taxes to dig a tunnel, completed this week; now the trucks drive THROUGH the Alps instead of OVER them, and save a lot of diesel fuel and mountain wilderness too.

Edited at 2010-10-17 12:28 pm (UTC)
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 18th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
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Wow. Being corrupt doesn't pay!

Well, I guess it does, but only in the short run.
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