Our son Sam has had an interesting fascination with the Titanic lately.  We’ve let him watch the 1997 movie “Titanic” and the early 1958 “A Night to Remember.”  We’ve checked out additional documentary DVDs from the library along with books.  He’s taken one of his giant Lego planes and converted it to be Titanic, complete with funnels and a break-away hull which allows him to sink it (from the couch to the floor) in dramatic near-real play action into two pieces.  It’s pretty cool actually.  I even helped him find the underwater 3D representation on the sea floor in Google Earth.

All this has re-kindled my own childhood interest in the story and the wreck.  I recall being intrigued by the idea of this unsinkable ship having sunk in 1912 and the fact it hadn’t been found.  I, like many others thought how cool it would be if someone did find it and was able to raise it.  I read Clive Cussler’s book “Raise the Titanic” and watched the movie of the same name.  These of course only kindled a belief the Titanic might one day be found and actually brought back to the surface.  Many people thought the same thing.  But tonight I got to thinking what a folly that was.

I’m sure before the Titanic was discovered by Bob Ballard, many people truly believed we’d find her and be able to affect a patch on her hull that would allow us to bring her up.  I’m certain there were grand visions of turning her into a museum, monument or sailing her again just to take the “unsinkable” meme and shake it in the face of God.

But God had other plans.

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A recent question posed in our local Toastmasters club was this:

“Would you break the law in order to save someone’s life?”

My initial reaction was “of course.”  It wasn’t the question given to me, but I sat there considering  it as if it had been.  The next thing that jumped into my head was the thought that the value of human life is above the law.  However, to what extent does that hold true and to what degree do people hold that as a personal moral?

Recently a man was put to death in the United States as part of a death penalty conviction for the rape and murder of a woman who was pregnant.  That man’s life was taken within the (questionably) acceptable  norms of the law.  Was that human life beneath the law any more than the woman and unborn child he murdered were above it?  Many would argue it was, many would argue it wasn’t; that’s the crux of the entire death penalty debate.

Do we then fall into the question of if it’s a life worth saving?  Ignoring the path of a Death Penalty for the moment, should we analyze a situation quickly and determine if it’s worth breaking a law to save a life or letting the person die?  Excluding the penal system and it’s death penalty for the sake of this argument, would you break the law to save a life?

Must we think about the law that might be broken?  Does it matter?  What is more important, saving a life or making sure we as an individual don’t incur the wrath of the legal system?

A man defies police orders and rushes back into a burning building trying to save the life of a son or daughter.  Did that father break any laws?  It might be argued they violated a direct police order, failed to follow police directions but was it really breaking any law?

Another man disregards a no trespassing sign to help an injured ATV rider.  Or how about this one; a man with a valid concealed carry permit, who is carrying his firearm, reacts to a school shooting next to his house, enters the school grounds and subdues the murderer long before the police can arrive.  This man will surely go to jail; he broke the law by entering a posted gun free and no shooting zone and discharged a firearm on the premises.  Did he save lives?  Did he do the right thing?  Would he go to jail?  Should he?

The reactionary who took out the murderer may have saved countless other lives, both school children and faculty.  Was his action of breaking the law justified in an attempt to save others?  Or should he have stayed in his house, cowering in his own home as he continued to hear shot, after shot, after shot, believing murder was taking place, waiting the long minutes it takes for the police to arrive.  Would that person feel pain and anguish for the rest of their lives wondering if they could have made a difference?  Wondering if their actions could have saved lives even at the risk of their own?

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It’s 2013 and instant communications has reached new levels with the likes of facebook, twitter, high speed Internet connectivity, cellular data networks, Skype and more. The “tech” industry appears to be moving at breakneck speeds to find even more innovative ways to bring us “the world,” “our world,” in less cumbersome if not more intrusive ways. Eyeglasses that allow you to read email or automatically pull up information on people in view using face-recognition technology. What is the next step? Is it embedded tech in the brain? Are people at some point destined to be connected to their small communal collective if not the entire world collective by means of an always-on invisible tether to the information cloud?


Have people become so interdependent on others for their own survival, or satisfaction? Have we shunned privacy to such a point in society that it’s looked upon as shameful to -not- be engaged with others seemingly full-time? Must we be constantly bombarded by social interaction that we barely have a private moment? Where then is the limit of privacy?

Through facebook one can see and read the latest news about their friends whether it’s important or not, whether you’re interested or not. Conversations have degraded into small sound bites; easy enough to digest but remaining hollow of nutritious content. Friends seem compelled to respond as if they are in the same place at the same time; vicariously living through others. They want to know what’s happening, so much so that it becomes an addiction at some point, but does it matter?
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For nearly 15 years it was the one thing I took care of the most. I treated it like it was the most valuable thing I had (which it was). I cherished it, I cared for it; I made sure it was the one thing in my life that would last. The next 10 years however, I hardly ever touched it. Today I’m reminded of the terrible things that can happen due to neglect over time.

I’m speaking of my 1971 Mach I Mustang. In 1986 it was pretty much “done” with new bodywork, paint, new engine and transmission, was all cleaned up, and became my every day driver. I would wash it and wax it on weekends. I would enter it in car shows, sometimes taking home a trophy.

No it wasn’t a show car, nearly but not quite. There were still small details I’d never bothered with, like the interior door panels or concourse correct things. It was my baby, specially modified in just the right areas to be -my- ride, personalized to -me- and nobody else. For years upon years I continued to take care of her.

Even when I moved into a new house, the first thing I did was make sure I had a garage to keep her in. The everyday driving habits tapered off after 10 years and found me driving a 1987 Jeep Cherokee Sport. She (the Mach I) lay silently in the garage, waiting for her turn to come again. Eventually it did, as I would still try to make a car show here and there or take her out for just a drive. But then one day the engine started making expensive noises, so she got parked until I could rebuild an engine for her.

In 2001 she got that new engine. A fresh rebuild I had done myself. New everything and even some special go-fast parts to make her purr. Once again she was a live horse in my stable ready to ride anytime I was ready. Sadly, she became an outdoor horse not long after that because I now owned a 1973 DeTomaso Pantera.
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I had a random thought, and I wrote it down. Was it as accurate as the first thought that ran through my brain? Who knows? But it was directly related to the thought.

The mind working faster than I can write. 100 years ago we must have been thinking slower. Maybe even just 50 years ago. Today I can’t even type as fast as I can think the words (and I can type pretty fast). The trouble is, if no one takes the time to write the words down, they may be lost.

Well that was the thought; doesn’t necessarily make much sense. In today’s society with the availability of the Internet, more people as a percentage of population than ever before are now able to write things down and have other people read them. Beyond that we had a short period of pod-casting, then video-casting seems to have become the norm. Still, what happens when the Internet goes away? What happens to all that stored data? It’s not in books.

I can pick up a book written hundreds of years ago, thousands for that matter. But what about today? Will someone in a hundred years look back to this time and wonder what it was like? Will they be able to scour a data resource like the Internet today and find the random thoughts of people like me?

Probably not.

Asa Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton