This ‘n’ That: Tsunamis, Robot Cars, Daniel Pelosi, Football, United Airlines

DanBot 3000 cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

Yesterday I went to YouTube to watch something but got waylaid, as usually happens, by some riveting thing they have on the screen when you get there. On this day it was video of the 2014 tsunami in Takashima, Japan that killed 40,000. It was all here, the houses getting carried away, the huge wave, the earthquake, the fishing boats sailing down Main Street and all the screaming and hollering. I felt bad about it after watching it. Those poor people.

Then I went to the video I wanted to see, which has already been viewed 120 million times, when the doctor was pulled out of his seat on a United Airlines flight and dragged down the aisle because he had been randomly selected to be one of four people needed to solve the airline’s not having enough seats for the flight. People screamed, “Oh my God,” and “I can’t believe it” and so forth and so on. I was absolutely horrified at this. Nobody should ever have to be treated this way. Indeed, the CEO of United, two days later, said exactly that.

Which is worse, a tsunami or a guy taken roughly off an airplane? No contest.

Another news item in the Hamptons involves football—another area where we are finding new ways to relate to one another.

It’s about the East Hampton High School football team. As you know, we’ve come a long way with this.

In my time, two generations ago, if your bell got rung in a high school football game, the coach would take you out, come over, take off your helmet, rub your head and then tell you “walk it off.” You’d taken a hit for the team.

Nowadays football is considered a frightening sport for anybody under the age of 12, which is fair enough. As far as the high school teams go, for the protection of the kids, the state looks closely at the “conferences” of teams, so teams from larger high schools play against teams from other large high schools, and teams from smaller high schools play against teams from smaller high schools.

Several years ago, a few kids from Pierson and Bridgehampton High, which have never had football teams, were allowed to be bussed over to play for East Hampton High School, if football was a sport they wanted to play. Why should they be deprived of such an opportunity? As a result, the powers that be in the state did new mathematical calculations adding the entire school populations of Pierson and Bridgehampton and so jacked up the level of play for the East Hampton High School because now they were a “bigger” school. They did this even though there might be only one or two kids from the two other schools trying out. In this higher level conference, East Hampton was visibly smaller than their opponents out on the football field and with only heroic effort was able to beat them.

Anyway, three months ago, East Hampton High petitioned the state to bring them down to the lower school population conference they’d been in before, and, in explaining the situation, had high hopes that the bureaucrats would understand. East Hampton even offered, if they went back down to that notch, to forgo eligibility for playoffs in that lower division for a time, just in case their team, when coming down to the smaller school level, stood out, so to speak.

Last week, the state replied. Too bad. East Hampton High would continue to be scheduled against some of the biggest high schools on Long Island. So on a fine Saturday afternoon next fall, when you hear the marching band out on the football field by the high school, pull in and park and head up into the stadium to watch the game.

I betcha there will be some moms filing lawsuits against both the state and the school as the result of this. It’s always the adults who are at fault when a bigger kid beats up on your littler kid. We’ve come from just “walk it off” to seeking damages. Our school taxes have ballooned in recent years. Sue me.

Early this morning, there was trouble with my email. I got an email from some company I never heard of, suggesting that I hire them to swat away attempts to crack into my email and plunder it. I was disturbed by this, thinking it might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. So rather than marking it as spam, I deleted it. An hour later, I got another email from them, thanking me for my interest in their company, and this time, surprisingly, listing some personal information about me that would not be generally known and, if I needed them, all I had to do is reply. I deleted that, too.

Finally, I should like to comment on the phenomenon of self-driving cars. As you know, humans, particularly drunk humans, die and kill others on the road. The numbers, just in America, are staggering. Every year, 30,000 people die from auto accidents. But nobody seems to care about that, because we drive to where we want to go and that’s a price that has to be paid to get there.

Meanwhile, robots are excellent drivers. Self-driving cars have been driven by robots for millions and millions by miles by Google, Ford, Uber and Tesla as they test out robot cars in traffic on the public streets of Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Phoenix. Then, last week in Phoenix, there was an accident where a self-driven car collided with a car driven by a person. Nobody died. And no thing died. It just lay there, this robot car, on its side, wiggling its wheels, until some bystander ran over and flipped the on/off switch to off.

The police came. They gave a ticket to the human for making a turn where he shouldn’t have, and then they tried to give a ticket to the “attendant” who was “keeping an eye on” the robot, but he said he wasn’t driving, so they didn’t know what to do.

Seriously, though, where’s the math here? Let’s say we have all robot cars. People sit in the back and text. Once a month around the country, there’s an accident. This will have saved 29,999 lives, no?

Apparently, people in America feel that one accident with a robot car is too many. Well, they’re wrong. You’ve read this first in Dan’s Papers.

Something about this made me think of the case of Daniel Pelosi, who is in prison serving a 25-years-to-life sentence for murdering Ted Ammon in East Hampton in 2001. He had his lawyers ask for a whole new trial not long ago, and there was fear he might be let out. But his appeal was denied, and so off he went back to his prison cell.

I bring this up because during the run up to Pelosi’s trial, his prior criminal record was looked into. On one occasion here on the East End, he’d been stopped by police officers who saw the car he was in swerving on the road. After the car was pulled over, the officer walked up to find that a passenger was still there, but there was no driver. Instead, there was somebody apparently asleep in the backseat. It was Daniel Pelosi. He said he had been back there, asleep. What happened? In the end, the police ticketed him for DWI, when they came to the conclusion he’d leaped over the front seat to the back to curl up and pretend to be asleep as the officer had walked up to the car after pulling him over.

Daniel Pelosi. A man ahead of his time.

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