The Daily Dose/January 16, 2017
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy
Notes from around the Human Experience…
INCOMING!!!…OR NOT: The text message sent out was ominous:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
We must be honest: we chuckled when we first heard this. And, perhaps, there was a time when, collectively, America would have chuckled at it, too. If not for the fear it caused, at least over how it happened. But that time has passed. There is no humor in events like this anymore. Everybody gets their shorts in a knot.
Dry, Technical Matter: What happened was this: those zanies at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HEMA) were conducting a change-of-shift test of their emergency missile warning system. Included was an internal test of the warning system that alerted the public to the fact they had, more or less, ten minutes to live. The test is done on a computer and the worker conducting the test is presented with a drop-down menu offering two options: Test Missile Alert and Missile Alert.
Fly In The Ointment: The worker, obviously selected Missile Alert.
A missile alert test and an actual missile alert on the same drop-down menu? Good gravy, this was asking for trouble from the start, the surprise not being that someone clicked on the wrong option, but that this nonsense hadn’t happened before.
A Warm, Personal Remembrance: Many years ago we were working security at the Monte Carlo Hotel on the glamorous Las Vegas Strip. An alarm of some sort went off and after the matter was attended to the wizard in charge of pressing the All Clear button inadvertently hit the Emergency Evacuate button, which was right next to, and as unprotected as, the All Clear button. Similar hilarity ensued.
And The Darwin Award Goes To…: Us humans never learn. Why the Missile Alert command was as easy to access and activate as the Test Missile Alert command isn’t immediately clear. For Pete’s sake, make it take some work to activate the real thing. I don’t suppose HEMA needs two people each with separate keys – and armed to prevent shenanigans by the other – like they have for launching nuclear weapons, but having the test command and the actual alert command on the same drop-down menu was/is silly.
Suggestion Box: Hey guys, how about a big red button on the screen that says Press Here To Activate Real Alert and have one or two more following steps like clicking another button and entering a code. Or have the button in the bottom of a jar of Macadamia nuts or, better yet, have a hula dancer in the office holding a remote control button in a coconut. Have anything, really, as long as it is not on the same drop-down menu as the test command.
WELL, THIS SHOULD END DRINKING FOREVER AND EVER: America completely loses its goddamned mind when the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution – prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors in the United States – takes effect on this date in 1919. North Carolina, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri and Wyoming all ratify it on this date, with Nebraska’s ratification actually making it official. Congress had sent it to the several states for ratification in December 1917.
Initially, booze consumption in the United States actually fell, but that was just until the bootleggers could get up and running. The Eighteenth Amendment would be repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment in December 1933.
Great Moments In Showing The Evil United States Who’s Boss: Not for the first time, the Soviet Union makes space history when Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 become the first manned spacecraft to dock in orbit on this date in 1969. Their crew transfer between spacecraft is also a first and it remains the only transfer to be done by spacewalk.
Take Me Out To The Courtroom: Curt Flood, traded from the St Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies earlier in the offseason, files suit against major league baseball on this date in 1970.
Flood’s suit challenged baseball’s reserve clause, which bound a player to one team even when the terms of their contract had been fulfilled. Flood was peeved that he had been traded and refused to play for the Phillies, who back then were not any good and played in one of the worst stadiums in the league. In December, Flood had petitioned Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to make him a free agent, a request Kuhn denied.
Fly In The Ointment: Flood’s suit would be rejected in United States District Court in August 1970, with the judge merely citing baseball’s antitrust exemption and declining to rule on the merits of Flood’s claim. This ruling was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1972. Flood sat out the entire 1970 season, accepted a trade to the Washington Senators for the 1971 season, but retired after 13 games. He died in 1997.
Quotebook: All I’m saying, I suppose, is that if the temptation to humanity does assail you now and then, I hope you won’t take it as a weakness in yourself, but give it a fair hearing. – John LeCarre, The Secret Pilgrim
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Four Super Bowls (XX, XVI, XXXI and XXXVII) have been played on January 26, the most of any date.
Today’s Stumper: When did the United States first accomplish the docking of two manned spacecraft? – Answer next time!