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daily archive: 10/29/2008
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Asbestos
Asbestos is a magic mineral. Some ancient Roman emperors used to have lacy tablecloths made from asbestos, which they would throw into a fire while full of food detritus to impress their guests. The tablecloths came out of the fire as pure-white as the driven snow. Nothing handles heat like asbestos.

Some Italians live on hills of asbestos – and their villages have been there for millennia. It takes a long while for asbestos to kill.

But asbestos does kill. It has killed many thousands of ignorant innocent young men.

I once, in a city far away, had a neighbor whom I despised. He was drunk; he was violent; he was profane; he was loud; he was incestuous.

He sued the asbestos-makers as he died. I was initially indignant. The only reason that he worked in the asbestos-laden shipyards was that he was too drunk to storm the beaches of Normandy. But as I watched him die (with his nose chopped off with a plastic prosthesis replacing) – nobody deserves to die that way. God may grant him heaven or hell, but he already experienced hell.

Traditionally, the only cause of mesothelioma is asbestos. It is believed that Clint Eastwood caught meso from driving his motorcycle across naturally-asbestos-infested pathways in the hills of California.

When you have mesothelioma, you die. You choke on your own blood as the linings of your heart and lung collapse. There may be somebody out there whom you hate utterly; you would not wish mesothelioma on that person.

Billions (actually 100s of billions) have been spent compensating asbestos victims in America. Every asbestos-maker on Earth has been sued into oblivion. And deservedly so.

But where there is opportunity, there is corruption. An awful lot of this payout went to union-halls where each person stood up and claimed a share, regardless of their health. When they came back for a second share based on pneumonultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis the judge noted that the proffered x-rays were identical to those from their prior asbestos suits. And Dickie Scruggs is being disbarred and imprisoned.

A Pittsburgh industrial company, once a part of the Fortune 500, no longer exists. It sold ~ $100,000 worth of goods with a few hundred dollars worth of asbestos component – among the billions of dollars which it sold. It has been sued into oblivion – and its employees now work elsewhere.

Two elderly African-American brothers in Mississippi who are apparently in perfect health received enormous payouts as did all of the lesser plaintiffs in their suit.

Asbestos lawyers made billions. The state of Maryland (and probably others) are now controlled by asbestos lawyers.

After they sluiced through the asbestos-makers and others – the sharks looked for still others; such as GM and Campbell Soup. In fact if 40 years ago, you utilized heat – you also utilized asbestos. Do you remember when you had the sniffles in second grade and your mother pulled up a quilt around you and offered you a cup of nice warm Cream of Asbestos Soup? No?

A life insurance company once aspired to be OSHA (before there was an OSHA). They had a doctor on staff who one year ~70 years ago said that asbestos was safe. He took it back the next year. They have since paid many hundreds of millions of dollars for this one stupid statement.

A client long ago was an asbestos maker. And every time I think of the next paragraph, I sob uncontrollably.

In South Africa, they would take three year old boys –THREE YEAR OLD BOYS—and have them jump up and down in pits in their bare feet to break up asbestos fibers. WTF – they were just n*ggers. Every single one of those boys died horribly of cancer by the age of 20.

May some men suffer.

The Challenger 7 went down because the o-rings collapsed. If there had been asbestos in the o-rings, they would not have collapsed.

I was an insurer – I didn’t have to worry about despoiling my employer’s treasure for these South African boys -- this was not an obligation which we had agreed to take. But there was the question of my heart. And there was my actual duty to keep pirates from stealing that treasure.

Things which I fail to understand.
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