Walmart Employee Trampled To Death On Black Friday

Today is Black Friday. For those outside the USA, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving (always the last Thursday in November), traditionally the day all these big stores start their sales and the biggest retail day of the year. Hence the name, it's the day when most retail stored go out of the red and into the black for the year.

Every year stores offer fantastic savings (I got one hell of a nifty digital camera for $60), and usually offer "doorbusters".

Doorbusters are expensive items at massive discount, that go on sale--usually at 5am--and when they're gone, they're gone. It's kinda like the concept of the loss-leader. People come for the doorbuster and, because they've all gone, buy other stuff at much less of a discount.

As a result of these, people queue for hours. In November. In the wee hours of the morning. And, come 5am, the doors are open and it's one big stampede. People get knocked over, trampled, stuff gets crushed. It's chaos.

That's why I ordered my camera online. No crowds, see?

This morning, however, a worker at the Long Island Walmart was trampled to death in the crush. So intent were the shoppers on getting those bargains that the doors were smashed off of their hinges and 200 people ran over this guy after he was knocked to the floor. The same crowd narrowly avoided foisting the same fate on a pregnant woman, who was hospitalised after being knocked over herself.

Crazy. Just crazy.

Hat tip to AMERICAblog


British Police To Get Tasers

Interesting news from Blighty comes our way in the form of British bobbies being armed with Tasers. Apparently, after more and more police forces have been using the handy little stunners, the country as a whole is going that way.

We await the screams of outrage.

Actually, a Taser, used properly, is less dangerous than the extending batons they have been using for a while now. Extending batons can crush skulls and break bones, especially in inexperienced hands. Sure, if you have a dickey heart a shot from a Taser can kill you, but so can someone sneaking up behind you and yelling "boo!".

The fact is that policing has changed since the days Dixon of Dock Green could fell a criminal with nothing more than a practised knee-bend and a cheerful "What's all this, then?", and the bad guys don't give up with an equally cheery "It's a fair cop, guv" any more. The Taser is, in this writer's opinion, a fair middle-ground between those who want bobbies armed to the teeth and those who want them to go back to the little truncheon.

Peter Boatman, operations director for Pro-Tect Systems, has had the weapon used on him over 200 times, and he's upright and breathing. Wonder how he'd look after a couple of hundred bops on the head from those batons?

Vatican "forgives" Lennon

Via the BBC comes the news that the Vatican has decided to "forgive" John Lennon for claiming that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.

How nice.

Of course, the Vatican finds itself, as the Americans say, a day late and a dollar short. See, they've decided that Lennon's comment was a "boast", whereas anyone who knows the truth behind the story realises that it was nothing of the sort.

So I guess that 40-odd years after the fact it's nice that they're acknowledging it at all. Actually, I think that this is just an indicator of how far behind the Vatican is in their paperwork. Maybe some overworked clerk finally got around to reading the original article and realised the mistake.

Think about it. The Vatican is always coming out and saying things about events that happened decades ago. They've only recently acknowledged that the then Pope might have done more when it came to the question of Hitler. And before that we had the admission that the Spanish Inquisition might have been a wee bit on the harsh side.

So there's hope. It seems like they are catching up. They've probably just hired on some new, eager young firebrand who is working through the backlog.

At this rate the Roman Catholic church should be ready to admit that overcrowding is somewhat of a problem some time around 2012, by 2017 they might be telling us that AIDS is a threat, and by 2020 they may finally come out and tell us that abstinence-only education doesn't work. Who knows, we may yet see them endorsing condoms and producing their own blessed "packet of three" under the name "His Holiness's Swiss Guard*".

I wouldn't hold my breath, though. It's been two thousand years and they're still clinging to the myth that Jesus was a peace-loving lamb who was killed by the Jews instead of the Romans.

* I can't claim this joke as my own. It appeared in an old Dark Future novel by Games Workshop.



Today is remembrance day, the Eleventh of the Eleventh, and the ninetieth anniversary of the end of the First World War. I was asleep at 11am GMT, but I will be observing a minute of silence at 11am EST here in Kentucky.

In England, 3 of the 4 surviving British WWI veterans attended the traditional ceremony at the Cenotaph, and Prince Charles attended a similar ceremony in Verdun, France.

And in Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said "We have all endured a most bloody century. Let us resolve afresh at the dawn of this new century.. that this might be a truly pacific peaceful century."


Pilot Lands After Going Blind

Via AMERICAblog comes the amazing story of a British pilot who went blind at 15,000 ft and was then talked down to a safe landing by the RAF:

When the instruments on Jim O'Neill's four-seater Cessna aircraft became difficult to read, he assumed it was the glare of the sunlight as he flew over north England at 15,000ft. It was only when the dials blurred completely that he realised the full horror of his predicament: he was a solo pilot who had suddenly gone blind.

Struggling with the aftermath of a mid-flight stroke – which had put pressure on his optical nerve and robbed him of his sight in one eye and left him with very limited sight in the other – Mr O'Neill found himself unable to follow instructions from civilian air trafficcontrollers attempting to guide him to the nearest airstrip. Instead, an extraordinary rescue was launched when RAF staff, overhearing the emergency, offered to send a military plane to fly alongside Mr O'Neill and shepherd him in to land, issuing instructions to him over the radio.


And again...

I see that Bill O'Reilly and the Fox news team have started this year's "War On Christmas" blatherings already.

Is it just me or is there something sick about this so-called War On Christmas tomfoolery in a world where people really are suffering persecution for their beliefs?


Are we nearly there yet?

I got a note from the Blog Police last night and if I don't mention the election I will get my license revoked.

I may have used that joke before.

Ah well.

So, like, Obama won. America's first African American President. Yes, its a historic moment. I was actually watching Indecision 08: America's Choice on Comedy Central when the news broke. Yes, this is a tradition, you may recall that I watched Colbert and Stewart team up for the last election in 2006 and I thought I'd do the same this year.

So, Obama won, and not only won, trounced the holy shite out of his opponent. Obama got 349 electoral votes to McCain's 163, more than double. And there are still two states not reporting--Missouri and North Carolina--but the two are likely to get one each.

Here's an interesting point that I noticed. The election was decided so fast that all of the news outlets were announcing the result while polls in Alaska were still open!

Wow, way to tell an entire state that they're irrelevant.

There was bad news, though, for anyone who values freedom. Having passed a same-sex marriage law two years ago, California residents voted to pass Proposition 8, ammending the state's constitution in the same religious-fueled, hate-based, equality-destroying way that Kentucky and six other states did in 2006. All for that ridiculous reason that wobbles on about "protecting marriage".

Good news, though. The Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative passed in Massachusetts, decriminilising the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the Compassionate Care Initiative passed in Michigan, allowing for the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

So, some freedoms were squashed, some sensible laws passed, and history was made. Not bad for an election.