Archive for November, 2012
No doubt this category will have more candidates in coming months. Today it is all about the California family that have died saving their dog from high surf conditions. Sadly the dog made it out on his own while the 16 year old son that went in after him is yet to be found. The dog chased a stick thrown into the water… begging the question why do that when the surf was so rough? The boy followed to rescue the dog but made it out after realising how bad the conditions were. He was followed by his father and when he got into difficulties, the boy and his mother went to his aid. She was dragged out dead by others, the father’s body washed up while the boy is still missing. Meanwhile the dog swam ashore unaided. I wonder who will throw sticks for the dog now?
I wonder what people are thinking at times like this. I remember many years ago a family rip to the Colo River which was in flood at the time. My dog fell in and was paddling like mad against the current when my sister bravely leapt into the water and helped Bolo to shore. The thing was, as much as I loved my dog and still have sibling moments with my sister, I wouldn’t swap him for my sister. She risked her life because that river was in flood and full of fast flowing debris. I figured Bolo would get back to the bank in a second or so and then we could drag him out. My sister acted instinctively and this is what gets people killed more often than not. It can also mean the difference between life and death, tragedy or heroic rescue but we need to weigh up the risks if we have the time and presence of mind to do so.
The Army use explosive sniffing dogs for two reasons. One, they can smell explosives better than humans, although nowadays we have electronic devices that are pretty close in capability. Two, it is always better to bury the bits of a faithful canine comrade than a human one. The dog is there to take the hit, not the handler and not the people the team are protecting. Throwing a stick into heavy surf is not the smartest way of playing with your dog, nor is going in after him in such conditions. Think before you do anything and accept that Nature is not a theme park, it’s not a ride you can hit the emergency stop switch for and everyone just gets off.
The things people will do to win free stuff. In Florida a man eating live cockroaches in order to win a python at a contest held in a Miami reptile store finished the contest but collapsed and died outside the store from asphyxia. The roaches got their revenge! Cockroaches are full of protein and have kept many a prisoner alive. The trick is to purge them of any stomach contents and bodily waste, in other words starve them for a day or two before consuming them. In Thailand they cook them and along with many other insets are on sale at street stalls in the later evening. So other than personal revulsion, they can be eaten and they are nutritious.
The problem, as always, lies in the amount of cockroaches eaten and how quickly they are wolfed down (not that wolves eat cockroaches as far as I know). Moderation in all things is a good maxim to live by but it doesn’t win contests. Sadly, knocking back dozens of roaches, not winning and then dying as a result isn’t exactly my idea of a good time but Edward Archbold thought otherwise. And paid the penalty.
The tragic death of Brazilian Roberto Laudision Curti this year at the hands of police suggests the officers acted well beyond the guidlelines and were responsible for the student’s death. In fact the Coroner went further to say the police acted thuggishly and like wild ‘Lord of the Flies’ schoolboys with a pack mentality. I have no doubt they did get caught up in the heat of the moment. Perhaps they had copped hours of abuse earlier in the shift from other yobs?
While I would never condone excessive force it must be remembered the police didn’t take the LSD for Curti that set him off. They didn’t steal two packets of biscuits from the convenience store or report it as an armed robbery. While I agree Curti was of little if any risk to the public or himself, he knowingly and willingly took LSD, a prohibited drug. He broke the law on purpose, to give himself a ‘high’. He is responsble for putting himself in a position of vulnerability and high risk. Whenever you are under the influence of a drug, be it alcohol or even legal medication, you need to be aware the risk of something happening of an adverse nature is increased.
Curti should not have taken LSD and if he had not then he would not have been paranoid and stolen biscuits and ran around frightening people. He is responsible for his actions even though the officers involved are responsible for theirs and their actions led to his death. While no doubt he was loved and lovely, he died a drug crazed thief and no amount of trying to transfer responsibility to the police will change that. Curti is not entirely blameless but he has, no question, paid far too high a price for his choices.
Singapore is a very safe place for anyone to visit but it is not without risk, nowhere is. I was exploring the Geylang area which, it turns out, has more than old world charm going for it. It turned out to be a red light area, but only off the main street. Here women lined the footpath to be ogled by dozens of men, all Indian, mostly holding hands in friendly pairs. As I turned to return to the main street my instincts were proven correct when a soft drink can just brushed my hair. A milimetre or two closer and it would have hit me. I scanned the dozen or so faces of the men surrounding me but they were impassive, yet hostile. Obviously they resented a European on their street. In the next street it w nearly all Chinese men watching the handful of women dutifully lined up and on parade.
As I made it back to the relative safety of the hustle and bustle of the main street I wondered how many men each must see every night. These were the second and third tier of prostitutes apparently. The younger ones no doubt working more upscale venues. I could clearly see, especially with the Sri Lankan women, they were not happy with hat they had to do. The Thai and Chinese, Vietnamese women seemed to be there voluntarily but the looks on the Indian/Sri Lankan/Bangladeshi women told a different story altogether.
Wherever there is alcohol there is a chance of trouble brewing. Throw in women and the risk increases. In this case it is prostitution rather than girls at a disco but the formula is the same. Men + Alcohol + Women = Trouble. There were places in Kuala Lumpur I had read about that were great places to go in the daylight and shop, but at night they were low rent red light areas, known for pimps and prostitutes ganging up on clients and even likely victims just passing through. Spiked drinks, violent robberies and bashings are to be avoided at all costs. If you have the back up and the curiosity, by all means take a trip there but be prepared, travel light without your valuables and just enough cash spread around you to get you through the night. As I was on my own and not in the market for female company I felt the best thing was to make sure I left the area well before dark, hanging out close to my hotel where there was more than enough local colour to keep me interested.
Coming back from the Skybar where I had spent an enjoyable hour or so taking in the view of the Petronas Twin Towers by night, I spied a gang of local youths charge across the road and towards a single, male European. He was outnumbered about ten to one and the only other people around were older locals, none of whom I think would come to his aid if need be. The crowd mock charged him, stopping short about two metres from the man. He faked a counterattack and as they hesitated he turned and legged it. I told the cabbie to slow down and slid open the door to the 7 seater mini van and called to the man to get in. Either he wasn’t paying attention or didn’t grasp the seriousness of his predicament but he just looked at me then ran past the cab. At this point the mob were closing in so I slammed shut the door and locked it and the driver hit the gas. I have no idea what happened next as we soon rounded a bend and they were lost to our sight. I gave him a chance and he failed to take it. I wasn’t going back for him and putting my life at risk in a fight I didn’t have a dog in.
Overll both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are safe cities but of course, if you go looking for trouble, it will find you. As we used to say in the Military Police, it is all about the Three Ps; Prisoners, prostitutes and property! Also known as Cash, Bash and Gash!