Shall We Rehearse?

I’m hungry! I’ll just stop up here and grab some breakfast…

I read much of my daily news on the Associated Press utility (when did “app” become a word? Honestly!) on my “smart” phone, which is not intelligent in itself, nor is it dressed well, a sharp pain, or brisk. It is definitely well-designed, but if I never turned it on, it would just be a well-designed chunk of glass, plastic, metal, and some exotic elements used in specific and increasingly clever and minuscule ways. I like this thing and it’s AP utility principally because I can invoke it when my attention flickers from whatever entertainment I have chosen and catch up on what others are doing with their lives.

A few days ago, by which I mean Friday, 19 May 2017, I noticed a headline in the “Most Recent” tab of the utility that piqued my curiosity, to wit:

Police: Body dumped along Texas road after hearse stolen

Okay, I may have said to myself, I will press my finger against the plastic membrane that protects the glass screen of my hand-held computing device and read more about this “Most Recent” news. It was a very brief piece, readable by you, dear reader, by clicking on the link above, which goes only to the apnews.com website and not down any ratholes of internet mischief, but I will summarize the story for you.

The driver, employed to deliver a recently deceased person from a location more closely associated with their demise to a funeral home selected, one assumes, by relatives of the decedent, found themselves in need of sustenance. And lo! there was a McDonald’s restaurant ahead, so this driver (I have not determined their gender, nor is it material to our story) pulled into the parking lot, exited the vehicle, and ambled inside to order some victuals (I’m going to pretend I know that it was breakfast on their mind as it was around 5:30 AM when the hunger struck our protagonist). As they perused the gleaming menu, ensconced in yellow plastic, as they watched and waited for the bleary-eyed, caffeine-fueled workers to fill orders for other supplicants at this purveyor of food-like items, nefarious deeds were being executed in the parking lot.

A person” (so says the news) entered the driver-side door of the hearse and, finding that (1) it was, in fact, thrumming away in neutral and/or (2) had the keys in the ignition and was waiting to be ignited, threw the gearshift into “D,” and drove away with the material remains of someone lying in repose on a gurney in the portion of the vehicle designed for this purpose. Approximately 90 minutes later, a passerby noted a corpse-like object supine on a gurney “on the side of” or “in the 6000 block of Dick Elliott Road.” A brief search of today’s (22 May 2017) news shows no indication that the hearse has been recovered, although the supine individual (gender not available to me) successfully completed their journey to the funeral home.

I am a curious person and this story raised several questions regarding the behaviors of at least two individuals of whom we know very little: (1) the hearse driver and (2) the hearse thief (an updated version of the more antiquated Texas vocation of horse thief).

Here are my questions, although I leave it to each of you to place them in a sequence of importance that you find most appealing:

  1. When a hearse driver is hungry, is it ever appropriate for said driver to stop between receipt and delivery of a decedent to allay the hunger?
  2. Is it appropriate for a hearse driver to stop for a meal whenever they are actually driving a hearse… regardless of contents other than themselves?
  3. Is it not possible that the mere presence of a hearse at a restaurant of any description (barring for the sake of argument fuel stations that have restaurants inside) may raise thoughts among those dining inside (or in the parking lot outside) that the driver is in the process of treating a decedent with less care than is warranted?
  4. Do individuals engaged in the act of sating their hunger want to think about hearses and their contents whenever a hearse driver thrusts that option before them?
  5. In areas of this nation, perhaps elsewhere as well, it is considered courteous to pull over and wait for a funeral procession to pass, whether that procession is performed by horses and carriages, by people on foot, or by a line of cars with their headlights on. If a hearse is involved, isn’t it already a procession marking the end of a life, and should that procession lead through a restaurant parking lot? Ever?
  6. Is it ever a good idea to leave (1) the engine running (either for convenience or temperature control) and/or (2) the keys in the ignition, and/or (3) the vehicle doors unlocked when the driver exits the vehicle whether for a stop at a restaurant or a restroom (in this context, “rest room” is fraught with other meanings)?
  7. If one finds themselves in a parking lot and sees a hearse sitting there, hears the engine chugging away in neutral, sees the driver exit the vehicle and do nothing to secure the vehicle, why does this bit of happenstance, of utter serendipity, turn into a perfect occasion to hijack the hearse, regardless of its contents?
  8. Was the person who jacked the hearse out that morning hoping to find a hearse to purloin or did it just seem like a good idea at the time? A better idea than, say, completing the more probable mission of having a bit of breakfast at the “Arches?”
  9. Having stolen the hearse, what would make the newly ascendant driver take a quick look in the back, notice that they were not alone, and decide that having a passenger in the hearse—a vehicle intended for the transport of supine and lifeless passengers—spoiled “the game” and the passenger had to go, but the hearse could remain with them?
  10. What was it about the 6000 block of Dick Elliot Road that seemed like the right place to pull the hearse over, place the transmission in neutral, exit the vehicle, walk around to the rear of the vehicle, open the large tailgate door with the glass window and pleated draperies, pull the gurney out with the individual in place, leave them “on the side of” or “in the” road, close the tailgate, return to the driver-side door, enter the vehicle and drive off?
  11. Where is the hearse? I mean, we are not talking about a white 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier, a car that must populate the roads of Texas and the U.S. in general in multitudes. The missing “car” is black, probably recently cleaned and polished, with large windows, curtains (! – this alone makes it rather rare amongst vehicles), and quite possibly the name of the funeral home etched into the window glass or painted on the doors. How hard could it be to find this vehicle? It’s been three full days and half of today and it is still out among the other hearses of America!

Those are my questions. There are probably other questions, but those are mine. Astonishingly, stealing hearses seems to be a “thing” here in the U.S. While finding the exact story I read from the AP utility, I found several other such stories:

Thieves steal Ohio hearse, dump corpse, leave note

Family chases down man who stole hearse with relative’s casket inside

If hearse-thievery is going to happen, perhaps Mumbai-based Lunatic Koncepts has the solution:

Is THIS driverless hearse the future of funerals? Bizarre transparent coffin beams hologram of deceased and plays their favourite song

I’m hoping that spontaneous human combustion will visit me in my last seconds and relieve me of these worries.

Adrift

Unmoored

Farce

Final

Featured image by Aalborg Stift

Unforced Errors

I don’t follow any sports.

I don’t follow any sports. My field of play is lodged firmly between my ears and the sports I enjoy therein are a bunch of fun. For proof, sample a few posts.

Somehow, and in spite of this lack of enthusiasm for competitive sports, I know that a variety of sports contain a rule for determining whether an error in play has been committed. In baseball, an error is when a fielder misplays a ball and this allows a runner to advance one or more bases or a batter to continue after they should have been called “out.” Both kinds of error are noted by the officials scoring the game after the error has been committed and are listed in the statistics for that game.

The idea of unforced errors (UE) crept into tennis in about 1982 as a by-product of a statistician creating some software for evaluating players. Apparently, the UE is not particularly loved by players or fans as it is interpreted differently by different observers. Errors of the forced, unforced, or simple type also occur in other sports but I no longer care enough to write about what they mean in those athletic amusements.

Nonetheless, the idea of a UE is now part of the vernacular. Now if it could just be translocated from the realm of sport to that most unsporting profession—that of the politician.

In the United States, it used to be that our population could watch video clips from other parliaments around the world and shake our heads, knowing that this kind of thing would never happen here. I submit for your amusement a series of videos of this type:

Here we have the Turkish parliament engaging in some fisticuffs:

This one from South Korea starts with an amicable parade of future warriors parading down their shared aisle… and then:

Here are Taiwanese lawmakers going at it:

Ukranians engage in some collaborative wardrobe malfunctions:

If any of you are feeling that I am choosing brawls to highlight mischief in other cultures, let me put those concerns aside with this Alabama State Senate tape:

These various acts of shameful behavior pale in comparison to the nonsense the United States has had to endure during this election period. We can put aside the nomination part of the escapade, shameful though it was in its own right. It is behind us. I doubt that it matters what your party affiliation has been, your faith in their ability to behave has been tested. Please continue to believe whatever it is you believe and hope for a better crop in upcoming years.

On the other hand, there is one fellow that continues to try the patience of people from around the world. As I wish this to remain a generally politically neutral site, I will call this person Mr. Naked Id. The id, as you erstwhile Freudians will recall, is the portion of the human mind that is present from birth and is about unfiltered instinct. I’ll quote from Simply Psychology:

“The id remains infantile in it’s function throughout a persons life, and does not change with time or experience, as it is not in touch with the external world. The id is not affected by reality, logic or the everyday world, as it operates within the unconscious part of the mind.” Simply Psychology

and

“The id engages in primary process thinking, which is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented. This form of process thinking has no comprehension of objective reality, and is selfish and wishful in nature.” Simply Psychology

For a more learned digression on the id, I suggest resorting to a search engine of your choosing.

Is there any better description for what we have witnessed? We can only go a couple of days, it seems, between unfiltered, id-infused data dumps onto the bathroom floor of American politics. Many of these episodes of sharing are unforced errors of the most egregious kind. No one “made” him say it, tweet (I honestly prefer “twit” as the verb here) it, blab it on innumerable call-in sessions to “news” programs, blather on about “it” in campaign stops as his followers cheer Mr. Naked Id on, as they take up his id-iotic slogans and chant them back as if they represented insights into the problems that beset our nation and our world. He just says them and repeats them and makes them up as he goes along, unrestrained by the super-ego’s sense of restraint, unapologetic and unmediated. If our politicians were neonates, I could appreciate this and pass it off as expected immaturity of a new-born.

We have another case of unforced errors, one that is excessively driven by the super-ego, driven by second-guessing decisions until they have been decided into the ground. Much of the appropriate skepticism surrounding this candidate has to do with (1) a decision to use a private email server instead of the government’s system (to be fair, their information technologies are woefully out of date with existing technologies), (2) to use this private email server for more than one kind of correspondence (e.g. governmental vs. personal, potentially confidential vs. no one cares), and (3) to provide a series of incremental non-responses to questions regarding the practices stated in (1) and (2). This is all super-ego-mediated behavior, unfortunate and unforced as they are. It would have been clearly wise to use whatever outmoded technology the Department of State provided. Having failed that, it would have been better to use the private email server for only one type of correspondence (let’s go with personal). Having failed both of these it would have been smart to be proactive and divulge everything that might be questioned right away instead of incrementally.

There are various other issues with both of these candidates. Mr. N. Id has a range of well-documented poor behavior in his businesses (e.g. not paying contracted employees, six bankruptcies). There is a pattern of unforced errors in the way he has chosen to speak about a variety of people (e.g. immigrants, women, coworkers). There has emerged in recent weeks a pattern of completely id-driven behaviors in his “locker room talk” and in the accusations from various women he has come in contact with over the years.

On the other hand, the errors for the other candidate seem more forced-upon than unforced or otherwise. During a previous administration, an estimated $70 million was spent attempting to indict her family for an obscure set of real estate deals. All of that money and a lot of willpower did not result in any indictment related to the basis of the investigation. Additionally, The Fiscal Times (published by government debt hawk Peter G. Peterson) estimated in July that another $30 million has been spent investigating allegations attempting to tie the candidate to a death-inducing blunder in North African politics. It’s a rather small death-inducing blunder in comparison to some others (e.g. invasion of Iraq, death of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983, failure to follow C.I.A. intelligence on Osama bin Laden during administration transition in January 2001) but the concerted efforts of numerous partisan committees to hang this around her neck have failed. There are two possible interpretations of this: (1) there was nothing there to warrant such prolonged investigations and they should not have been attempted in the first place or (2) the investigators were so uniformly incompetent that they completely failed in their duties to the American people, thus spending over $100 million (total) of the taxpayers’ funds in violation of the principles they spend so much time whining about.

So. You. Have. A. Choice. It. Is. Binary.

Id.

Or.

Super-ego.

What will it be?

Clumsy

Promises

Featured image