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January 04, 2006

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On the other hand, as I continue to surf insomanaically around, I discovered that an entire village has been swept away by a landslide in Java; 200 people are feared dead.

If I still believed in God, I'd be thanking Him now. (Anyone have a good substitute, for use by atheists?)

John Coltrane? But I myself would stick with an old-school God, tried and true, if a little worn, like second-best boots. An Episcopalian God, for example -- one who has the manners not to show irritation that you only believe in Him at times like these.

If you're having trouble sleeping, I'm going to count to three, at the end of which you'll find your eyelids starting to get heavy... :)

All kidding aside, hilzoy, hope everything goes smoothly with the surgery. LJ may have been kidding when he hoped you get cloned while you're there, but I think we could do with as many hilzoys as we can get :)

In case you're wondering who I am, I'm a pretty regular reader, and a big fan of your writing. I post very rarely, only if I have something specific to add to the discussion that's not already been said. Anyway, I never said this then, but a heartfelt thank you to you (and Katherine) for the Graham amendment series in particular, and for being you in general :)

'tis indeed very good news. Not exactly sure that it's news news, if you know what I mean, but it's good to hear nonetheless.

Turns out there was only one survivor, now in critical condition. :-( :-(

Latest is that they're all dead but one. Thanks a lot, God. Nice system You've got going there, collecting praise for the good stuff and skipping out on the blame part.

Of course, taking Heine's Sophoclean "Gut ist der Schlaf, der Tod ist besser - freilich Das beste wäre, nie geboren sein" viewpoint, maybe it's all for the best.

Aw crap. Still not really news news, but now it's genuinely sucky. My condolences to their families and communities.

Rilkefan (or any of you other geniuses): any chance you might translate the Heine above for the lazy, uneducated, German-deprived among us?

Thanks.

And really, really bad news about the coal miners. I was so hoping they'd make it out alive...

If there is a God, he/she doesn't seem to be paying much attention...or just doesn't give a rat's ass (Darfur?)... in which case why bother with all the awe & reverence horsepucky?

Damn: how awful for the people who believed the miners had survived to find they hadn't.

I am not an atheist out of logic, but out of belief: I feel certain that there is no God, and am therefore uninterested in debating the existence or nonexistence of Deity. I believe there isn't, and am content to let others believe differently.

Nevertheless, I cannot help feeling at times like these it is very comforting not to believe there is a God who takes a personal interest in human life.

(In answer to Hilzoy's query, if the miners had survived, I would have felt joy in the ability of human beings to survive, and praised that ability. Human beings are capable of terrible things: I think it always worthwhile to remember and praise the wonderful things humans are capable of, too.)

As others have already written, the news was, unfortunately, untrue. If it had been, I would have been inclined to give the credit not to god but to man--or at least, humanity: the people who designed the CO barriers and the miners who used them. As it is, I'm inclined to put the blame or at least the onus for doing better, with humanity too. Hopefully, the events that led up to the disaster will be analyzed and the reasons for the failure understood and the next miners trapped underground will have a better chance.

Thank the rescuers, maybe?

Xanax -- "Sleep is good, death is better; I reckon the best thing would be, never to be born."

From Reuters:

"Since October, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued 50 citations to Sago mine, some as recently as Dec. 21, including citations for accumulation of combustible materials such as coal dust and loose coal."

Somebody needs to pay for this.

Slacktivist has a view of the story development from inside a newspaper.

I was listening to NPR, and the fellow they were interviewing said that the reportedly >200 citations that the mine has been issues in the last year (IIRC) aren't as alarming as the dozen or so that are "major", some of which were for the accumulation of combustibles. I guess they've been shut down on more than one occasion in the last year for that sort of thing, whereas the larger number of less-significant citations were for things like not inspecting extinguishers and maintaining equipment quite on time. So for me the question would be, given that this company had been repeat offenders in the area of safety, had they somehow not reached a threshold where a long-term shutdown would be appropriate? If not, what's going to be different next time?

Fifteen times, make it, that they've been shut down in the last year.

Broadcast here.

Sago mine rang a bit of a bell, so a quick Google seems to say that the Sago mine is run by International Coal Group, which was an enterprise of Wilbur Ross, who purchased up bankrupt assets of coal companies, shed the pension obligations, and then reconsolidated. (the link describes the process, this nytimes link describes the impact to retired miners). Ross rhapsodized that "The building blocks [of ISG] are drastically reduced personnel costs, performance-based incentive plans, and innovative measures aimed at realizing great production efficiencies." (ISG is International Steel Group, and the same procedure was taken for ICG)

The coal industry has extensive links to the administration. I have this funny suspicion that those waved off safety violations might be somehow linked to this in a roundabout fashion.

Of course, some might point out that Ross' previous wife was a Democratic candidate for governor, but before that, she was Pataki's Lt. Governor, and the story gets stranger and stranger from there.

Coal miners calling into the local NYC political show pointed out that the Sago mine had formally been unionized. Under the new ownership, it was ununionized, meaning (according to these admittedly pro-union sources) that workers could face trouble if they reported unsafe conditions.

Just passing it along.

Coal miners calling into the local NYC political show pointed out that the Sago mine had formally been unionized. Under the new ownership, it was ununionized, meaning (according to these admittedly pro-union sources) that workers could face trouble if they reported unsafe conditions.

Just passing it along.

"Formerly", jackmormon? 'cause "Formally" doesn't quite make sense to me there.

The anti-admin case. Warning: link made John Cole's blood boil.

"Formerly," yes. Sorry.

"If I still believed in God, I'd be thanking Him now. (Anyone have a good substitute, for use by atheists?)"

If anyone has a good answer for that, by the way, I'd really be pleased to hear it. But I mean an answer, not a platitude or a wording.

Thanking "goodness" or "nature" or "the universe" is awfully weak tea.

One could say, I'm glad (or I feel fortunate) I find myself in a universe where X happened instead of one where Y happened.

A poem of mine about an awful event ends with
"But though it's seldom comforting to be a nihilist,
sometimes I'm glad the world is only worthless and not worse."

If our suffering is part of a design, that makes it in some ways less tolerable. The opposite ought to be true of our joy.

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