Haunted Laundry Machine?

I had added this as a mere addendum to the earlier post about The Mangler (one of my most favorite short stories by Stephen King), but it was so striking that I must give it its own post.

Video: Five-Year-Old Rescued From Washing Machine

Quote from the video:

Surprisingly, that machine was out of order. “And I haven’t been able to run it since, and I haven’t been able to run it just before.”

Man, that’s spooky. Brrrrrrrrh.

Now all we need is for them to release grainy black-and-white surveillance footage from a CCTV (no audio) showing the child apparently talking to some… thing… inside the laundry machine, and then climbing into the machine, seemingly hypnotized. Grotesque arms or tentacles reach out of the machine to help the child in. (The video said that the machine was high enough that the child would have had difficulty climbing into it. At least, unassisted.)

Then the door closes by itself. Furtively, without slamming.

Then the machine turns itself on.

There are adults in the background, but their backs are turned or they’re busy measuring detergent or folding laundry. So nobody notices anything amiss. The sound of a washing machine starting up wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary in a laundromat.

When interviewed later, in the emergency room, the child reported seeing “a little man” inside the laundry machine.

The story as it appeared in The Wenatchee World on November 7: Child injured in laundry mishap

And as it appeared on the KVUE website the following day: Mother rescues 5-year-old girl trapped in washing machine

“Have you ever wondered if that laundry machine you told me about is haunted, Johnny?”

— Quote from The Mangler

Previous post on spooky laundry rooms.

Addendum (4/2/12): 1-year-old Ore. boy drowns in washing machine

Hurricane Irene

OK, I’m about to leave Arlington. I will stay overnight with my sister and her family in Round Hill, VA, to wait out the storm. If all goes well, I will return to Arlington tomorrow afternoon, and maybe Monday will be regular workday.

An earthquake and a hurricane less than a week apart!

Hurricane and Cyclone (green MTG cards)

Published in: on 27 August 2011 at 9:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Today’s Earthquake

It was a few minutes after 1:50 PM; some sources say it was 1:51 or 1:53 PM. Maybe the exact time depends on the location.

I was setting up some R code to assemble data for a fancy analysis when I felt a mild shaking. At first, I thought it was somebody in the hallway or perhaps in the floor immediately below us moving heavy equipment. But I couldn’t imagine what could be so big. Our building doesn’t have any wet labs — it’s all computers and office workers — so it couldn’t be, say, somebody moving in a new industrial-sized freezer or a centrifuge or an MRI scanner. I briefly entertained the thought that maybe it was a road crew on Executive Boulevard doing something rather destructive.

Then the shaking became too pronounced to be anything mundane, and I realized it was an earthquake. A co-worker wandered out of his cubicle with a puzzled look on his face and I said “Earthquake!” to him. We skedaddled down the staircase and out the building, along with everyone else. After about 20 minutes, we started filtering back into the building. Nobody was hurt, and there was no apparent damage to the building.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly quiet, partly because many people had left for the day. Federal employees had “liberal leave” and were allowed to go home. But we contractors didn’t have liberal leave, so we put in a full work day. At least, I did.

At home, I found only a few items out of place. Some DVDs had fallen off the top of my old TV, and a wooden statuette/mannequin had toppled off of its high perch.

Magnitude 5.8 – VIRGINIA

(the link I gave originally stopped working!)

Earthquake — red MTG card

The Wisdom of the Elders

For S.F. and I.K.

I can understand the idea behind wanting younger people, but to be honest I think older people are often more careful and responsible.

… suggests a hubris among younger workers

Totally agree.

The younger workers might know the latest cool whiz-bang stuff, but the older people will understand the big picture, and will be able to efficiently direct talent and energies. The former will know many different trees; the latter will understand the overall lay of the forest and how it all fits together.

It’s like the difference between “intelligence” and “wisdom” in Dungeons and Dragons, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post (yeah, I know that “intelligence” and “wisdom” can be hard to define, hence the scare quotes). Wisdom is not as easy as intelligence to measure. For example, it’s easy to see that somebody has the smarts to program a fancy application in the latest cool whiz-bang computing language, and not so easy to tell whether somebody is careful, responsible, and non-hubristic. So, it’s easy to give wisdom short shrift.

High intelligence and low wisdom is a dangerous combination, because it leads to hubris (I.K.’s word), which in turn leads to human-made disasters like the ones we’ve been hearing about in the news the past year or so. Someone with the opposite problem — low intelligence and high wisdom — would at least be aware of their own limitations.

I am reminded of a paper I read for my statistical consulting course, Barabba, Vincent P. (1991), Through a glass less darkly, Journal of the American Statistical Association, 86, 1-8, but only because that paper in turn referenced another work, Haeckel S.H. (1987), Presentation to the Information Steering Group, Cambridge, MA: Marketing Science Institute.

In Haeckel’s Information Hierarchy (according to Barabba — I don’t have access to Haeckel’s presentation, so I’ll have to trust Barabba on this), raw data is converted (transmuted?) into information. It takes a lot of data to produce one piece of information, in the same way that you need multiple data points to estimate a mean with a low standard error. Information in turn is converted into intelligence, which is converted into knowledge, which is finally converted into wisdom. There is attrition at each stage; e.g., in the same way that it took a lot of raw data to produce one “bit” of information, it takes a lot of information to produce one piece of intelligence, etc.

Haeckel’s Information Hierarchy (adapted from Barabba, 1991)

This is not to say that raw data is unimportant; quite the opposite, in fact, since you need raw data to even begin to ascend Haeckel’s Information Hierarchy. But what seems to be happening these days is an overreliance on the bottom rungs of the Information Hierarchy at the expense of the top.

To measure is to know.

Lord Kelvin

Measuring gives you the raw data at the bottom of Haeckel’s Information Hierarchy, which can lead to knowledge, and ultimately (one hopes) wisdom. But if wisdom itself is difficult to measure, then it will be difficult to obtain knowledge about wisdom.

Here’s a Magic The Gathering card with a delicious flavor text, one of my favorites: Counsel of the Soratami. The flavor text reads:

Wisdom is not the counting of all the drops in a waterfall.
Wisdom is learning why the water seeks the earth.

Counting all the drops of water in a waterfall would count as raw data in Haeckel’s Information Hierarchy.

Canary-Fighting Ring Busted

19 arrested over Connecticut Canary bird fighting ring

(Via FARK.)

I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat

Canaries in Coal Mines

It is gruesome and cruel to have critters fight each other for our pleasure and profit. And yet we have decided it’s okay if two boxers duke it out in a ring, presumably because they are sentient and exercised their free will (do we still believe in free will?), and chose to do so.

I guess if you believe in determinism, you might say the boxers didn’t really choose to fight. Lots of money was dangled in front of them as an incentive, like a big carrot, and maybe machismo and testosterone was involved too. So their brains responded to the stimulus by causing their bodies to don boxing gloves, step into the ring, and proceed to engage in pugilation.

I have to mention Betta Fish (Siamese Fighting Fish). So easy to care for; just be sure to do those water changes.

Is it wrong to have bugs fight each other?

Japanese Bug Fights (here’s a wiki entry on the topic; I like how each bug has a “Special Move” )
Gladiator Bugs (Americanized version)

What about having robots fight each other? Is that wrong?

Robot Wars

Maybe it’s okay with robots, because (as far as we can tell; maybe this is the Problem of Other Minds) they do not experience pain, whereas bugs, fish, dogs, and canaries do (as far as we can tell). Is that it? Is the presence or absence of pain what decides whether it’s okay or not? But suppose we introduce anesthesia…

Here, robots may be serving a stand-in for the Philosophical Zombie. Would it be wrong to have zombies fight each other?

Rocket Fueled Baby Formula

A classic Thought Chain

CDC: Rocket fuel chemical found in baby formula

Reminds me of this Marvel super-hero, whose origin involves rocket fuel.

At the Chop’t salad bar that I frequent, there are three “rocket fuel” salad dressings under their “Spa” line: Rocket Fuel Dressing, Tex-Mex Rocket Fuel, and Thai Curry Rocket Fuel.

Dangerous Pizza Dough Machine

Hope they don’t use this dangerous pizza dough machine at Jigsy’s. Hope the little girl is okay.

Reminds me of a short story by Stephen King, entitled The Mangler.

Published in: on 28 December 2008 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chihuahua Race, 19 May 2007

Last year I attended the regional PETCO chihuahua race with I.K., S.W., and P.A. We entered I.K.’s dog Waldo into the race. Unfortunately, Waldo didn’t know what to do. Just out of the gate he turned around and looked back quizzically, like “what the heck is going on?”

Here’s a video clip of part of the event:

Sorry, I don’t think this clip contains the heat in which Waldo ran. (I.K.?)

Note how some dogs are like Waldo, just wandering around randomly as if demonstrating Brownian motion. Whereas others seem to have had some training, and dart straight to the other end of the track.

Needless to say, Waldo didn’t win. (That’s OK, Waldo, we still love you.) The winner, Poppy, went on to participate in the nationals, 31 August 2007. But Tiger from Bakersfield, California was the national champion.

Published in: on 17 December 2008 at 7:05 am  Comments (1)  
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