Tricky

I’m in two minds over the whole Richard Hammond crash. I like the guy; I think he’s a good presenter and funny and personable and strangely attractive. But it’s so very similar to Steve Irwin‘s death, in that if you play with fire/dangerous animals/fast cars, eventually something’s going to go wrong (Jamie, I know a stingray isn’t ‘dangerous’ as such, but you know what I’m getting at). If these guys were not celebrities, they’d be up for Darwin Awards – though obviously hoping that Hammond pulls through, dicey as it currently looks. It’s tricky – I want to say "oh for fuck’s sake, it was surely obvious that one of these days a Top Gear presenter was going to get hurt, and there’s evidently no justice in the world cos it wasn’t Clarkson" but then I’ve laughed at the stunts (ice hockey with cars was a classic) and I cringed in sympathy when I saw the news last night. I think saying "oh for fuck’s sake" and being sympathetic aren’t mutually exclusive, right?

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15 responses to “Tricky

  1. Amy September 21, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    Well, Top Gear has become a slightly more upmarket version of Jackass of late – but the Jackass people are annoying whereas the Hamster is just darling…
    So, is serious brain injury the same as brain damage, does anyone know? And why do they need a person in these 300mph cars when by everyone’s admission you can’t really steer them or anything…

  2. Jamie September 21, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    Jesus H Christ Rachel. I’m not telling you off here, but how can you be in two minds about a young father in a critical state in hospital? Who are you, Germaine Greer? What you think that because he tried to break a comletely achievable world record in the field he’s interested in, he should die? He asked for it? Also, whilst we’re on that subject, Steve Irwin’s death was COMPLETELY UNRELATED to his normal job. Just becuas it was an animal doesn’t mean it’s the same as being killed by a giant croc that he smacked with a jellyfish does it? 17 have been killed by stingrays in the history of everything EVER. More people did from kitten scratches (in fact there was one in the papaer about 4 months ago).
    Anyway, when I first heard about Hammond, I thought “I can’t believe another genuinely nice, enthusiastic, funny and likeable bloke has had this kind of life threatening accident”.
    Do you think the people who get run when drunk deserve to die? Or those who take a pill? Or those who perform physical theatre? Are you in two minds about them? What about the ones who paracute jump, or water ski, or do ANYTHING with their lives other than sit in a chair surrounded by bubble rap.
    Should we feel in two minds about good people who die if they lose their life doing a slightly risky job? What about a rock climbing instructor, a Red Arrow pilot, a huricanne chaser? What about a horse rider? Tens of riders die a year by falling. Are you in two minds about them when they die?
    Hammond was putting his life under the same risk as we all do from time to time. Irwin was actually in almost no risk at all. It was a MEGA FREAK ACCIDENT.
    I’d actually like to see some concern for these people rather than a throw away comment about their lives and what’s actually at stake.

  3. Jamie September 21, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    Sorry, I don’t want to appear (and I’m not being) shirty… the tone of someone’s point can never be correctly gauged in text on a screen… but really, there’s nothing tricky about this situation. It’s plain shit and no-one asked for, or tempted anything.

  4. amy September 21, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    Oh come on. The Irwin thing and the stingray stats – surely the fact there have been so few injurys from stingrays and that they are normally docile indicates he must have been aggravating it? (How many times have I heard him say “let’s make it angry” before poking snakes with sticks etc?). Tragic, yes. But not unexpected, I think is the point. You hav to think that yes, you are a father and husband and son and therefore what the hell were you doing putting yourself in that position, you stupid eejit? That was what I took the point to be anyway.

  5. Rachel September 21, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Oh dear lord. Where, at any point in that post, did I say I think Richard Hammond deserves to die?! What I think is ‘tricky’ is whether to sit there and be shocked at was, let’s face it, an accident waiting to happen. It’s not tragedy, it’s predictable. It will be appalling for his family if anything does happen to him (info coming out of the hospital is sketchy “at the request of the family”, which doesn’t sound good to me – I guess it’s too early to tell whether he’s brain damaged or whether the injuries he’s evidently got have avoided any crucial parts of his brain?), and I would be very happy if a miracle statement came out of the hospital tomorrow, but I’m a) being realistic here, you don’t end up in a 300mph crash with brain injuries without it being fucking serious and b) annoyed that it takes a man being mangled for people to go ‘shit, so cars can be dangerous then?’ or a man being killed by an animal for people to go ‘hang on, so Mother Nature’s capable of turning on us then?’
    And, we all may put our lives in danger from time to time, but it’s hardly the same risk as driving a jet-propelled car…
    I really like Richard Hammond. In as much as you can like someone you’ve never actually met. I hope he makes the best recovery he possibly can. But I refuse to say “oh, he got hurt doing what he loved”, what I want to say to him, and what I imagine his family will be saying to him right now, is “you stupid bugger! What the hell were you thinking?”

  6. Will September 22, 2006 at 11:55 am

    So we should just not ever take any risks in life? 30,000 people die on Europe’s roads every year. How many people have died from driving jet-powered cars? If you were relying on statistics I’d say the chances of being killed in an ordinary car were far higher. So should we be saying to those 30,000 people – ‘You stupid buggers, what were you doing?’
    They could have chosen not to drive. They could have chosen never to leave their homes. But really, what kind of a life is that?

  7. Ant September 22, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Not very intelligent use of statistics Will – I’m prepared to bet the percentage of rocket fuelled car journeys which result in death or serious injury is significantly greater than that for regular cars, and that’s a far more relevant figure.
    I’ll bet more people die each year from crossing the road, than die from playing chicken with trains, but I know which is more dangerous.

  8. Will September 22, 2006 at 1:35 pm

    I was actually thinking that as yet no one had died from a rocket powered car crash, so the odds of dying would be 0.
    Maybe I should’ve phrased it better.

  9. Amy September 22, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    Okay, well look at it another way Will – I’m not saying we should all hide in caves and never go out. Go bungee jumping and all the rest of it, but be responsible – a)know the risks and take adequate precautions, b) make a decision whether it is worth it. Was it worth trying to break the land speed record? Could they really not have got an auto-pilot to “drive” it (let’s face it, you basically point, shoot and press the brakes, you don’t have much actual manual control over it at 300mph). Could Irwin not have observed wildlife without interfering with it?
    Yes, I drive a car. No, I don’t drive down the wrong side of the road just to see what would happen, as maybe, just maybe, it would be fine but I don’t rate my chances.
    FYI – stick “land speed record death” into google and see what you get.
    Oh look, a recent example which sounds stunningly similar:
    Attempt at land speed record ends in death
    29/06/2006
    South African race-driver Johan Jacobs died in an attempt to break the world land speed record as his jet-powered dragster racer overturned at 300 mph.

  10. Pete September 22, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    Will: your understanding of probability is buggered.
    Frequency of past events does not change the probability of future ones – all it does is restrict your ability to accurately predict them with statistics.
    Risk is not the same as probability. In actual fact, risk is greater when less historical data is known. Consider a freshly set up bungy rope – would it be riskier to go first or take a go once you’ve seen someone else survive?

  11. Jamie September 22, 2006 at 7:00 pm

    Just for the record, what happened to Irwin was a freak accident. He didn’t touch the Stingray, there’s footage of it as he was filming at the time. His death has nothing to do with his actual job, he wasn’t even filming for money, it was for his daughter.

  12. kate September 22, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    i just KNEW someone woulda blogged about this while i was away in cornwall.

  13. Rachel September 23, 2006 at 2:07 am

    For the record, that footage hasn’t been seen publicly yet (and I hope it never is, that’d just be sick) but the information we have about it comes from a close friend of Irwin’s who can’t even get his story straight in the same interview (at first he says Irwin pulled the barb out of his own chest, later he says he thinks Irwin may have died instantly); if I was reviewing this evidence for a history exam I’d have to classify it as unreliable secondary evidence. In that same article, another friend of Irwin’s who’s talked to the cameraman on the shoot says “Steve was so close he could not get away” – now again, this is not first hand testimony and it’s probably gone through Chinese whispers, but from what we know about Irwin’s style, isn’t it probable that he was ‘too’ close to the stingray? Incidentally, all these comments are coming from an Australian article that’s venerating the Crocodile Hunter.
    And in Hammond news… getting better.

  14. Will September 23, 2006 at 11:15 am

    You what? My understanding of probability theory is spot on. How do you think you work out the probability of something? By using past events of course. I thought we were all taught this in primary school.
    Risk is not a mathematical construct so is irrelevant.

  15. Ant September 24, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Probabiltiy as a mathematical concept is based on simple scenarios with absolute outcomes. It is simply the number of possible outcomes, divieded by the number of ways those outcomes can be achieved, and has nothing to do with assessing past events. This is helpful when assessing the likely outcome of a dice roll or a coin toss, but not for more complex scenarios, like deciding whether or not to drive a rocket powered car.
    If you use past events as a basis for determining probability, explain how I can toss a coin and get heads 5 times in 5. Does this mean that I have a 100% probability of getting heads next time? Obviosuly not, since I might toss the coin anouther 5 times, and get 5 tails.

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