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Soup of This Day #93: Shot Through The Heart And You’re To Blame

November 2, 2011

Isle of Man TT Races RC30
Nick Jeffries at Creg-ny-Baa, Isle of Man TT in 1992. He was to win the Formula 1 TT the following year – Photo: Christof Berger, 1992. Christof Berger has no affiliation with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I recently got an iPhone 4s. I like iPhones, previously having used a 3G, 3Gs and a 4, but I’m not in love with them – They do what I need them to do. Perhaps ‘like’ is the wrong word – I don’t ‘dislike’ them is more accurate. I disliked my previous phone. I’d gone down the technophobe line of saying I didn’t care about the ‘smart’ stuff, I just wanted a good camera that could take calls.

It was a decent camera.

I didn’t queue for the iPhone – It just happened that my contract was up and my provider offered a 4s to keep me with them. Given their previous tendency to leak private data and to crash their network at critical times this was a necessary lure.

So now I have my shiny new iPhone 4s, a 24 month investment. Naturally enough I’d like it to be protected from drops and scrapes – Anyone who has dropped a 4, with it’s glass front and back, would empathize. Consequentially I got online and chose a seriously rugged case from a reputable brand. I’m not a stylish guy but I looked through the available designs and colours, eventually settling on a high vis. orange 1, crucial for a guy who frequently forgets everything, like where he put his damn phone. This cover also had a nice image of a tree on the back and I’m the kind of guy that likes trees so this seemed to be a good fit for me. Brilliant I thought and ordered it was.

Except after I had ordered it I got curious about a logo that appears on the case. I Googled it and here’s where the warm glow fell apart:

It’s a hunting pattern, designed for sporting shooters. The tree is camo and the orange is so that other hunters won’t shoot you by accident. Deer are apparently colour blind but other hunters are supposedly not – They’ll see your orange iPhone and will therefore hold fire. Given that 7% to 10% of human males are also red-green colour blind then hunters should probably still take a good hard look before shooting anything, regardless of how not-orange it looks.

I’m not going to go into the morals and ethics of killing wild animals. Partly because I’m compromised by the fact that I use animal products every day, from the leather in my shoes to the steak I had for dinner last night. Even the silk liner from my fedora may have come from boiled silkworms. That last bit makes me feel less like Indiana Jones and more like the Nazis he was fighting against.

Sometimes I harm animals directly – Once I accidently ran over a rabbit, leading my sympathetic wife to softly sing the theme from Watership Down as we drove on down the road – Zoologist humour me thinks. And every 2nd day in summer I terminate a Redback spider or many, usually with extreme prejudice.

The thing is, there are reasons to all of this. My leather shoes are comfortable and hard wearing. I’m an omnivore by design. The silk liner helps to keep my head cool. Fiver ran straight under my wheels. Redbacks are potentially lethal and I am protecting my family. All of these explanations are within the bounds of what a modern society might call reasonable. The explanation for hunting, for camouflaging yourself and then stalking and killing an animal though, is that it is recreational. Hunters get enjoyment from killing.

That’s not me.

I don’t even like playing the iPhone deer hunting simulation app. Angry Birds, yes. Real Deer Hunting, no.

A little while ago I talked about how serious accidents in motorsport are something that I don’t like to see. A day later Dan Wheldon lost his life in a horrific Indycar smash that has exposed a dangerous skein running through that series. A week later I wrote about that, pointing out that I was not the harbinger of death for motorsport and suggesting that while canopies would be a good idea, they didn’t have them in motorcycling.

As it turns out, for all my dislike of killing deer, real or simulated, I may actually be the harbinger of death.

The day after that 2nd post the talented MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli was killed when he slid across the track and into the path of Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi. There was nothing either could do as 1st Edwards and then Simoncelli’s good mate Rossi struck the unprotected Italian. Somewhere in those collisions Simoncelli lost his helmet and thus the flamboyant extrovert with the Sideshow Bob hair lost his life.

Motorcyclists tread a fine line at the best of times. Here, they are sometimes referred to as ‘temporary Australians’, with the implication that they are not long for this world. That’s a bit extreme for your everyday commuter but certainly the margins for error on 2 wheels are much tighter. In 2 wheeled motorsport those margins are so wafer thin as to be translucent. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the festival that is the Isle of Man TT.

The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race is more correctly a series of time trials. The bikes reach an average speed of up to 211kph across a 60km narrow, twisty circuit that is variously lined by stone walls or sometimes buildings. There are 200 corners and an altitude change of 400m. The main concession to safety is the distribution of hay bales at some key points. Those bales notwithstanding, between 1907 and 2009, 237 riders have lost their lives. Because of this, while the race used to be a key part of the Motorcycle World Championship (From 1949 to 1977), it is only rarely graced by the world’s best anymore – Put simply, they don’t want to die.

I can’t find a record of Marco Simoncelli racing the TT. Still, his death has coincided with the release of a documentary film called TT3D Closer to The Edge.

I reckon it’s worth a look, if only to see just how bloody mad some people are.

The doco showcases the 2010 Isle of Man TT Races, focusing on 2 riders in particular, the eccentric Guy Martin and the brilliant Ian Hutchinson, as they pilot their bikes around the Snaefell Mountain Course. Mount Snaefell, over which the riders traverse, is the highest point on the Isle, topping out at 620m. There is a saying that you can see 6 kingdoms from it’s summit; the Isle of Man, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Heaven. For some riders their view of the latter can get a little more personal.

The Isle of Man is also home to a rare breed of sheep, the Manx Loaghtan. Prized for their meat and wool these mousey brown animals tend to have 4 horns and it’s estimated that there are but 1500 breeding females left in the UK.

Manx Loaghtan
The Manx Loaghtan. Protected by motorbikes – Photo: Chris Bramhall, 2005. Chris Bramhall is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

There’s no word on whether they are colour blind but if you try to shoot 1 you get run over by a vengeful motorcyclist so best to leave them be.

I’m going to go play Angry Birds on my iPhone now.

Shot Through The Heart And You’re To Blame

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