Train Rage

There are a variety of different ways to start off a morning. Some people go for a jog while others opt for ingesting caffeine, usually in the form of coffee. This morning, I got my day started by being assaulted.

I work in Cambridge but the Cynical-C Mansion is located a few miles away so I take the commuter train in every morning (my building doesn’t have a helipad…yet). I got on the train today as I would any other day when I felt a hard shove from behind. I looked back to see what happened and some guy was screaming that I had cut him off. I immediately went into commuter defense mode which is to pretend nothing unusual happened and keep walking. This is usually the best way to handle anybody who has started exhibiting erratic or aggressive behavior on the train/subway. It failed me this time. He punched me in the back of the neck as I was walking away and kept yelling unintelligibly as his wife/girlfriend/handler jumped into the fray to pull him away and most likely give him another dose of thorazine.

I was shocked more than anything else at being punched in the back of the neck in front of a trainload of people and the incident was witnessed by the conductor who promptly called the police. The train was held up for about twenty minutes while we waited for the police to arrive. I then had to identify the assailant and give a statement. The conductor had witnessed the incident so the police didn’t ask if I wanted to press charges but just arrested him. I got back on the train and headed off to work.

I’ve been talking to people about this all day and getting a million different opinions on what they would have done if they were in my position. Some people say they would have hit him back but if I had to do it over again I think I would have reacted the same way. I was a bit bigger than him (He was about 5’9 and skinny and I’m 6 ft, 215lbs, none of it muscle) so I didn’t feel physically intimidated even though he did hit me as I was walking away. I remember at the time realizing that I had several witnesses who had seen him hitting me and wanted them to remember that picture if they were questioned by the police. If he had taken a less cowardly approach and attacked me from the front then I probably would have been forced to defend myself.

And what would you have done? (Yes, you!)

Ham the Chimp


America’s first astronaut.

Ham, also known as Ham the Chimp and Ham the Astrochimp was the first higher primate launched into outer space.

In December 1960 the 44-month old chimpanzee was trained to do simple tasks in response to electric lights and sounds, with response being timed. On January 31, 1961, Ham was secured in a Project Mercury capsule labeled MR-2 and launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida into outer space. The capsule suffered a partial loss of pressure during the flight, but Ham’s space suit prevented him from suffering any harm. During the flight Ham had to push a lever within five seconds of seeing a flashing blue light; as per pre-flight training, failure would result in an application of negative reinforcement in the form of an electric shock to the soles of his feet. Ham’s performance in space was only a fraction of a second slower than on Earth, demonstrating that tasks could be performed in space. Ham’s capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean and was recovered by a rescue ship later that day.

More photos of early Mercury with plenty of monkey astronauts can be found here.
(Thanks PVC)

Father: God Told Me To Sacrifice Wife, Children


A man sentenced to 90 years in prison for attempting to set his Orlando home on fire with his family sleeping inside said God commanded him to sacrifice his wife and children, according to a Local 6 News report.

Hans Missal, 51, admitted to dousing his Orlando home with gasoline last March. Missal also duct-taped the doors shut and ran a hose from the house to a car tailpipe while his wife, son and daughter slept before he attempted to set the structure on fire.

Tuesday, Missal said he was following God’s orders.

Missal compared himself to the Bible’s Abraham, who was commanded by God to sacrifice his own son, and said he received a message from God to kill his entire family, Local 6 News reported.

“God had a plan for my family, I had no idea what that plan was,” Missal said. “I trusted God and God was faithful to the end.”

Matt Groening Interview

Great interview. Here’s a taste:

AVC: He’s a fan favorite.

MG: People love Bender. He’s the robotic Homer of the Futurama universe.

AVC: Why do you think people relate to him?

MG: Like Homer, Bender has no guilt whatsoever. He wants what he wants. He’s one of the few robots in pop culture who isn’t either an effeminate little wimp, or an unfeeling psychopath. He has a lot of emotion.

AVC: Why do you think that Fox treated Futurama the way it did?

MG: I think there were just a few executives around at the time who did not understand the show. No amount of explaining the humor of a crab monster and a crazy robot and a one-eyed sci-fi babe could change their minds.

(via Kottke)