Thursday, September 14, 2006


I read this post yesterday and it reminded me of an hilarious disclaimer that we had to sign last year when we went hiking in a private nature preserve on Maui. Though you may not have guessed from the tone of this disclaimer, the trail was nice and at no point on the hike did we fear for our lives.

Nature is unpredictable and dangerous. Mountains are dangerous. Many books have been written about these dangers, and there's no way we can list them all here. Read the books.

The Waihee Valley swinging Bridges Trail is covered in steep terrain with loose, slippery and unstable footing. The weather can make matters worse. Sheer drops are everywhere. You may fall, be injured or die. There are hidden holes. You could break your leg. There are wild animals, which may be vicious or carriers of dread (sic) diseases. Plants can be poisonous as well. We don't do anything to protect you from any of this. We do not inspect, supervise or maintain the grounds, rocks, cliffs or other features, natural or otherwise.

Real dangers are present even on trails. Trails are not sidewalks. They can be, and are, steep, slippery and dangerous. Trail features made or enhanced by humans, such as steps, suspension bridges, walls and railings (if any) can break, collapse, or otherwise fail catastrophically at any time. We don't promise to inspect, supervise or maintain them in any way. They may be negligently constructed or repaired. They are unsafe, period. Live with it or stay away.

Stay on the trails whenever possible. The terrain, in addition to being dangerous, is surprisingly complex. You may get lost. Carry food, water and first aid supplies and a cell phone at all times.

Rocks and other objects can fall from the cliffs. They can tumble down slopes. This can happen naturally, or be caused by other hikers above you. Rocks of all sizes, including huge boulders, can shift, move or fall with no warning. A whole rock formation might collapse and squash you like a bug. Don't think it can't happen.

Weather can be dangerous, regardless of the forecast. Be prepared with extra clothing, including rain gear. Hypothermia, heat stroke, lightning, etc. can kill you. Rain can cause swelling of the steam (sic), including flash floods and turn easy terrain into a deathtrap.

If you scramble in high places (scrambling is moving over terrain steep enough to use your hands) without proper experience, training, or equipment, or allow children to do so, you are making a terrible mistake. Even if you know what you've doing, lots of things can go wrong and you be injured or die. It happens all the time.

The landowner does not provide rangers or security personnel. The other people on the trail, including other visitors, our employees, agents, and guests, and anyone else who might sneak in, may be stupid, reckless, or otherwise dangerous. They may be mentally ill, criminally insane, drunk, using illegal drugs and/or armed with deadly weapons and ready to use them. We aren't necessarily going to do anything about it. We refuse to take responsibility.

If you hike, you may die or be seriously injured. This is true whether you are experienced or not, trained or not, equipped or not, though training and equipment may help. It's a fact, hiking is extremely dangerous. If you don't like it, stay at home. You really shouldn't be doing it anyway. We don't provide supervision or instruction. We are not responsible for, and do not inspect or maintain the trails. As far as we know, any of them can and will fail and send you plunging to your death. There are countless tons of loose rock ready to be dislodged and fall on you or someone else. There is any number of extremely and unusually dangerous conditions existing on and around the trail, and elsewhere on the property. We may or may not know about any specific hazard, but even if we do, don't expect us to try to warn you. You're on your own.

Rescue services are not provided by the landowner, and may not be available quickly or at all. Local rescue squads may not be equipped for or trained in mountain rescue. If you are lucky enough to have somebody try to rescue you or treat your injuries, they may be incompetent or worse. This includes doctors and hospitals. We assume no responsibility. Also, if you decide to participate in a rescue of some other unfortunate person, that's your choice. Don't do it unless you are willing to assume all risks.

By entering the Waihee Valley Swinging Bridges Trail, you are agreeing that we owe you no duty of care of any other duty. We promise you nothing. We do not and will not even try to keep the premises safe for any purpose. The premises are not safe for any purpose. This is no joke. We won't even try to warn you about dangerous or hazardous condition (sic), whether we know about it or not. If we do decide to warn you about something, that doesn't mean we will try to warn you about something else. If we do make an effort to fix an unsafe condition, we may not try to correct any others, and we may make matters worse! We and our employees or agents may do things that are unwise and dangerous. Sorry, we're not responsible. We may give you bad advice. Don't listen to us. In short, ENTER AND USE THE PRESERVE AT YOUR OWN RISK. And have fun!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Primary Colors

I voted for the first time in Rhode Island yesterday. It was pretty exciting to be casting a ballot in the most important primary in the country. It was also pretty exciting to vote in a health club for the first time. I've voted in schools, churches, and fire departments, but never in a private business and certainly never in a gym. According to a study cited in Marginal Revolution, voters were more likely to vote in favor of measures to increase school funding when casting their ballots at a school and more likely to vote against stem cell research when casting their ballots at a church. So I suppose that voting at a health club would make people more like to vote for former athletes.

I also voted defensively for the first time. I pulled the lever for Steve Laffey in the Republican Senate primary for no reason other than I felt like he had the best chance of losing in the general election. I used to find defensive voting somewhat unsavory. It seemed like a perversion of the democratic process to me. That position seems somewhat naive to me now. I guess in an ideal world, elections would be reasoned debates about important issues. Since this is not the case, defensive voting is a tactic that one must resort to from time to time.

The incumbent, Lincoln Chafee, managed to pull though with 54.2% of the vote, so in the end, my defensive vote really didn't make a difference. This doesn't guarantee him victory in the general election, but it he will be a much more formidable challenger to former state attorney general Sheldon Whitehouse. How's that for surname determinism: he hasn't even been elected to the Senate yet and he's already got the White House in his sights.

I have to admit that beyond their electability, I really haven't paid very much attention to the candidates. I know where they stand on all of the hot button issues, but that's about it. I've definitely become more of an independent voter over the past few years, but at the same time, I can't in good conscience cast a vote against divided government this November, so I'm going to be voting for Whitehouse unless he gets pulled over with a dead hooker in the trunk of the car.

In another time, perhaps I could have supported Chafee. He claims to embrace most of the principles of the Republican party that I agree with and eschew the ones that I dislike. Still, I find it hard to get too excited about him. I was put off by a campaign ad that he aired a couple months ago where the first priority that he mentioned was restoring civility to government. Is this really an issue that anyone outside of the media cares about? I'd like my elected representatives to not be arrogant jerks, but politics being what it is, sometimes, you have to take the gloves off. Politics is a dirty game even when the stakes aren't high and I can't imagine anyone who would want their representatives to not be willing to play that game when the interests of their constituents are under attack. Of course, Whitehouse will get my vote even if he says the exact same thing, so it really doesn't matter, at least, not this year.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Talkin' Sports

I'm glad I wasn't the only person who wondered why SI picked the Dolphins to make it to the Superbowl. Jim Donaldson shared my sentiments in today's Projo. I also doubt that I was the only Lions fan who was secretly hoping that Daunte Culpepper would have to leave the game on Thursday to force a battle of the ex-Lions quarterbacks.

If you told me last year at this time that in one year's time, the Detroit Tigers would have the best record in the American League, I would've been pleasantly shocked. Given the way they had been playing up until about a month ago however, it'll be a crying shame if they fail to make it to the postseason. They're well on their way to a late season collapse of epic proportions right now. The pervese thing is that they're doing it with some great pitching. They have lost a countless number of close, low scoring games during their current losing stretch. If they can right the ship and play .500 ball from here on in, I think they'll be safe. I'm not sure if they can pull it off. The bad old Tigers tended to start of the season bad and finish even worse. The new and improved Tigers seem to be following the same general outline of the old script.

I missed the Notre Dame - Penn State game bloodbath yesterday, but it's looking more and more like Notre Dame is as good as advertiesed this year. Notre Dame is hyped up by the sports media every season, and like the proverbial stopped clock, the sports media seems to have gotten it right this time. Now that I've dealt with my issues with the New York Yankees, Notre Dame football is the only team for which I harbor an irrational resentment. Actually, I take that back, my hatred of Notre Dame is completely rational. Even though Michigan hasn't looked too strong so far and Notre Dame has already beaten two high-quality opponents, I think the Wolverines have a good chance. Sometimes, the best time to face a tough opponent is when said opponent is coming off of a lopsided victory. It's been a while since Michigan has come out strong in a big game, I hope they can do it next weekend against the Irish.

I'm happy to see Andy Roddick in the U.S. Open final. I hadn't watched tennis in years until I watched parts of Agassi's last two matches. I was surprised to see how well it held my interest. Tennis can be a very mesmerizing game to watch, especially when the players get a nice volley going. I've always liked Roddick. I try not to develop too much of a personal attachment to professional athletes. I feel like a lot of people project that qualities that they admire in people onto their favorite athletes and then get mad when the athletes don't live up to that image. Roddick has always seemed like a really down-to-earth kind of guy and someone who really enjoys the game. He just dropped the first set 6-2 and I don't think he really has much of a chance, but it's good to see him back in the finals nonetheless.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Smart Games

Not to throw more fuel on the fire that is the debate over whether or not Ultimate Frisbee is a real sport, but according to this study, the better a university's ultimate team is, the smarter its students are. Based on the information in this press release, I can't say that I'm convinced of the intellectual superiority of ultimate players (myself excluded, of course). The press release cites two measurements of academic performance, graduation rate and the number of Rhodes and Marshall scholarship recipients. I don't think graduation rate statistics say much about the quality of students at a particular school. A school with a very easy academic program could achieve a high graduation rate with a mediocre student body while a school with a very challenging program could have a lower graduation rate even with a very intelligent student body. The other dubious part of this study is that compares the academic performance of the entire student bodies at the schools, not just the ultimate players. For all we know, none of the ultimate players at the schools in the study graduated and/or earned a prestigious scholarship.

So why do schools with high rates of academic achievement tend to have good ultimate teams? Maybe it has something to do with ultimate being a sport popular with upper-middle class nerds, the same kind of people who tend to graduate from elite private universities and receive prestigious scholarships.

Hat tip: Deadspin