Death and Survival

I watched a TV program recently about the evolution of executions, in particular hangings and the firing squad.

In the beginning of hangings they discovered many interesting things.  For example, if they used a hemp rope, it cut through the throat and caused a lot of bleeding.  It was deemed too graphic and cruel punishment.  A proper hanging meant a clean break of the neck.  Hanging is ok, seeing blood is not.  They want a “clean” death.  Humane death.  Is there such a thing as a humane death?  Death by definition is generally not considered humane.

You have to realize that the hangman and the convicted one were very likely at least acquainted with one another, and the hangmen didn’t always relish their task.  So at one point they created an ingenious contraption for an automatic hanging machine.

Using ropes and pulleys, water and a large tree trunk, they rigged the machine to weigh the convict as he stood on the trapdoor, currently held closed by the log.  The hangman would place the noose and walk away.  Water was displaced to the same weight as the convict, a rope attached to various pulleys yank the log holding the trap door, which then opens and the convict drops.  That’s quite a lot of engineering in order to create the perfect execution.

Another way they tried anonymity was with an automatic firing squad.  Three guns are used, and the triggers are rigged with ropes which disappear behind a wall.  The rope then is tied to a bolt.  Beneath the rope is a candle.  The candle is lit, and slowly the rope burns away, releasing the triggers and shooting the convict.

That’s a lot of energy on perfecting machinery for killing.

Then there are the Survivor shows.  It makes me wonder about our priorities in the US.  We put people in a remote place already populated and see how long they can last, and they make them work against each other.  In some countries, that’s called life!  In the US, it’s a game show?

I don’t get the other kind of survivor shows:  How I escaped death, or I survived a bear attack.

There was a story about one guy who survived a night time plane crash on the water.  There are other survivors, all calling to each other in the dark.  This one survivor notices a sheen on the water and realizes that they are floating in a pool of airplane fuel.  He shouts a warning just as someone flicks a lighter, setting the entire pool and those in it on fire.

Having just nanoseconds to react, this survivor drops below the surface and manages to avoid immolation.  I’m thinking, boy, someone was really trying to kill this guy.  His time was up and fate/karma/Death was doing its utmost to take this guy out.

A week later he’s hit by a car and killed.    He was supposed to die.

Karma is karma and when it’s your time to go, it will find a way to take you out.

The News

The news media here in SoCal are going overboard with the manhunt for an ex-cop, ex-military man who’s gone berserk and shot several people, including two cops.  While it is an awful story, I think the media is overplaying it.  The cops found his abandoned, burnt out truck and seem to be certain he is still in the immediate area.  Those poor cops are out hiking in the mountains in a snowstorm, searching door to door.  At least that’s what the media would lead us to believe. 

For two days this is the only story playing, every hour on one channel or another.  Why is this a bigger story than another?  Ah the mysterious media makes that call and we’re drug along in its wake.  I would think there are plenty of other news stories the media might inform us of, but I would be mistaken.  Is it just here?  I’m pretty sure not.  CNN ruined the news for us by bringing us 24 hour coverage of any of a number tragedies.  Now we have to sit through endless hours of no information.  48 hours later and the media doesn’t know one iota more than they did in the first hour.  Leaving us with hours of of badly adlibbing news anchors.  I hear there’s a big snow storm hitting the East Coast.

Aaaargh!