Archive for June, 2007

I’m the manager of a self-storage facility in Santa Cruz, CA. We have an automatic gate here, a large one made of wrought iron and steel. The gate has this sign on it:

This morning I looked up out the window to see a child, about 8 years old, standing on the gate’s bottom beam and riding it open and closed. The mother was standing about 10 feet away, watching. I had to go out there and yell at both of them.

This gate weighs, I would guess, in the neighborhood of 3,000 lbs. It’s not like a garage door, where it stops if it hits something or encounters any resistance. The sensor is an infrared beam on one side of the gate, and only if something blocks that beam will the gate open again once it begins closing. It will cheerfully crush you against the opposite post if the sensor is unobstructed.

In the child’s case, I was waiting for her foot to get caught in the retractor chain that runs just underneath where she was standing. Having one’s foot torn off by a tension chain is not an ideal way to learn a lesson, but with parenting like this, it might be the kid’s only hope.

When did people get this stupid? Has it always been the case and I just never noticed before? The other thing I found disturbing was when I went outside to tell the kid to get off the gate, she just looked at me dumbly. She didn’t jump off like she’d been caught doing something wrong, or seem at all inclined to obey another adult. It was only when the mother told her to climb down that she moved.

Auto-Darwination eventually takes care of children like this, I am sure. Too bad it didn’t get the mom before she had a chance to breed.

Fark links this article today, which as far as I can tell is a legitimate news item:

A hard-line Pakistani parliamentarian and head of a religious political party on Wednesday demanded a “sir” title for Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, in retaliation for Britain knighting author Salman Rushdie.

“Muslims should confer the ‘sir’ title and all other awards on bin Laden and Mullah Omar in reply to Britain’s shameful decision to knight Rushdie,” Sami ul Haq, leader of the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, said in a statement, referring also to the leader of the Taliban.

Does anyone else immediately get a mental image of an 8-year-old throwing a tantrum about a child getting a toy that he doesn’t have? This is seriously unreal. This Sami ul Haq person somehow thinks that they can just call people “sir” and it means something? I’m failing to grasp the honor involved in giving an enemy of Britain a title that can only be granted by the British monarch, and which only has meaning in Britain to British people.

Maybe it says something about the overarching influence of British culture on the world that even terrorists who have vowed to destroy them consider an honorific from that culture to be desirable. Or, perhaps it’s revealing of a basic need to be validated and respected by others. It’s already apparent that Islamist ideology is highly focused on the concept of being respected and feared. They take affronts to their masculinity pretty seriously, and bluster and swagger a great deal when making threats.

Such insecurity is at the root of a basic inferiority complex. It’s not too difficult to imagine that some Muslim countries might feel that way these days. They’re technologically backward, economically stunted, and the harder they try to please Allah by blowing up infidels, the worse it gets. Cause and effect, in the empirical sense, makes no impression on them, which I suppose is typical of religious fanaticism.

I really, really hope that Islam has its Enlightenment soon, or they will wind up as little more than large panes of glass in the Middle East and Asia.