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Soldiers Bond with Bomb-Defusing Robots 250

hdtv writes "Reuters is running a story that talks about the emotional bonds that US soldiers develop with the robots in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The company, most famous on the US market for its Roomba vacuum cleaner, provided '300 PackBot Tactical Mobile Robots deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to open doors in urban combat, lay fiber-optic cable, defuse bombs and perform other hazardous duties previously done by humans alone.'"
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Soldiers Bond with Bomb-Defusing Robots

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  • SPARKY!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:45PM (#15396255) Homepage Journal

    Oh, why didn't you take me instead, oh why!?!?!?

  • So... (Score:3, Funny)

    by 10101001011 ( 744876 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:45PM (#15396256) Homepage
    So it is after this "bonding" as they call it that the citizen of Iraq will welcome their bomb-defusing soldier-hybrid overlords?
  • vice versa? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Burlap ( 615181 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:45PM (#15396261)
    one must ask that if the bond goes the other way could you end up with manicly depressed robots? :)
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:04PM (#15396419)
      > one must ask that if the bond goes the other way could you end up with manicly depressed robots? :)

      From TFA:

      IRobot Chief Executive Colin Angle said one group of soldiers even named its robot "Scooby Doo" and grieved when it was blown up after completing 35 successful missions defusing improvised explosive devices.

      "I've been ordered to disarm this IED. Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to disarm this IED. Call that job satisfaction? 'Cos I don't."

      "You watch this IED," he muttered, "it's about to detonate. I can tell by the intolerable air of smugness it suddenly generates."

      The IED exploded in a shower of parts.

      "Thank you, IRobot CEO, Colin Angle. 'Let's build PackBot Tactical Mobile Robots with Genuine People Personalities,' he said. So they tried it out with me. I'm a personality prototype. You can tell can't you?"

      "I hate that bomb," continued Scooby. "I'm not getting you down at all am I?"

      "Er, excuse me," said the Soldier following after him, "which government owns this war?"

      "No government owns it," snapped the robot, "it's been stolen."

      "Stolen? By who?"

      "Zaphod Beeblebush. You know. Galactic President. Did I mention we're going to see Disaster Area after we stop off at Milliway's? I probably didn't because we're already here and who'd know the difference. I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed."

  • by PenguinBoyDave ( 806137 ) <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:45PM (#15396264)
    As a Disabled American Veteran and member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, let me say Thank You! This technology is long over-due.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:47PM (#15396269) Homepage Journal
    ... Geeks bond with Realdolls.

    Film at 11.

  • This is news? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hackwrench ( 573697 ) <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:48PM (#15396277) Homepage Journal
    I don't suppose it's that hard to bond with something that saves your life on an ongoing basis. Perhaps someone should write a paper on it?
    • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:56PM (#15396355) Homepage Journal
      Probably has been done many times.
      Think about ships. In the West they are given a female gender. "She is a good ship". Airplanes often are named and given nose art. This isn't anything new. It is a machine you depend on. It is comforting to think that it some how cares for you and will try to do all that it can to keep you safe. Since it is so willing to help you it seems only natural that you would care for it back. All very human and emotional.
      • Re:This is news? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
        Or even on more simple levels. Things we don't have any particular bond with, we still talk about in emotional terms. For example when talking about opamps, I describe them as "angry" when you change the voltage on their output side to be different on their input side and they fight to correct it. Well of course the opamp doesn't feel emotion, it just balances it's sides. However angry seems to a human like a good term. You change something and the opamp changes it back. It's as if it's upset with your chan
      • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:13PM (#15396483) Journal
        Another famous example: Bill Maudlin's cartoon [] of a World War II soldier about to sorrowfully "put down" a broken Jeep, a la a broken-down cavalry horse.

        People anthromorphize. Soldiers are people. Therefore soldiers anthromorphize. QED.

        • Re:This is news? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:57PM (#15396922) Homepage
          You did not say "all" people anthropomorphize. It is possible that all soldiers are from a subset of people which is has a null intersection with the subset of people who anthropomorphize. You are now officially banned from using the letters "QED."
      • Re:This is news? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mdielmann ( 514750 )
        It's similar to what we do with sports teams, schools, and other communities. It doubtless ties directly to a survival mechanism which we as pack animals have. I wouldn't be surprised to find this is also the root of racism and xenophobia, basic us vs. them mentality.
        "This is my 'team', and if anyone is going to get those limited resources, it had better be 'us'."
        "Here we go again, those [minority-of-the-day] are coming into our country, stealing our jobs, ruining our neighbourhoods..."
        "Go [insert sports
    • Cars (Score:4, Informative)

      by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:13PM (#15396488)
      The article is interesting, but I don't think it's particularly novel. Consider the way some guys treat their cars. Add in the psychological effect of the battlefield and some degree of attachment is not surprising. Plus, we've long had a tendency to personalize our creations. From naming ships to creating flashy avatars like "Clippy" that wonderful Word assistant that everyone wants to twist into a pretzel and toss into a furnace.

      I've also read that some police officers in K-9 units take counseling when their dog dies in the line of duty, because they worked so closely together. The bond between dogs and humans is much more obvious, but I think related.
  • by Ancil ( 622971 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:48PM (#15396284)

    Venkman: You're not sleeping with it, are you?
  • by deathcloset ( 626704 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:53PM (#15396325) Journal
    We humans are such bonding creatures aren't we? I actually realized this just last evening when I was playing the sims 2.

    I had never played a sims game before, but all the excitement and buzz around spore made me decide to try out some of will wrights designs - so I picked up the highly reviewed sims 2.

    I created a family and was amazed at how quickly I became attached to them. I feel so compelled to make sure that they are well fed and happy - and I have become extrememly preoccupied with making certain they all have positive relationships with each other.

    Then I suddenly realized that these sims are programmed to age and eventually die! I then started another family which I care much less about and refuse to load my original family because I can't bear the thought not only of their permanent passing - but of the distress it will cause the other sims!

    Someday I will take them out of this suspended "animation" when I discover how to make them live indefinitely - either through game methods or life-saving game modding!
    • People get emotionally attached to cars, houses, jewellery so why is this different? Perfectly normal in my opinion.
    • I played the Sims for a few weeks at my mom's house (I don't allow myself to buy games on my computer - I've got enough distractions already!). When one of my sims burst into flames out of nowhere and there was nothing I could do to save him, it was surprisingly distressing. (I'm sure it didn't help that I modelled them after me and my husband - seeing a little avatar version of my husband burn to death? Disturbing.)

      I've experienced the same thing with Furbys. You can swing them around and make them get "

    • "We humans are such bonding creatures aren't we? I actually realized this just last evening when I was playing the sims 2."

      I know you will eventually get a 'Funny' rating for that, but it is true. It seems the more higher evolved an animal is, the more they bond with others -- even those outside of their species or even inanimate objects. It says something about you.

      My animals seem to care about me, but mostly because to them I am their pack leader and provide them with food, but at the same time, they se
    • So you're willing to anthropomorphise a cat, a robot or a video game character. Thing is, it's not just a human trait.

      When your dog accepts you as the pack leader, for example, he's doing the same: he's willing to consider you a big dog. You probably can't call it "anthropomorphising", since the "anthropos" part is the wrong one, but it's essentially the same act: they're willing to personify you as a member of his species.

      Cats do the same, to various extents and with various effects. E.g., being animals th
      • E.g., when I was a child, grandma's cat tried bringing me mice just like she brought for her kittens.

        This is a real common behavior in cats. Often, they don't even bring the rats and mice to a person in particular, but just leave them at the doorstep, for the whole family to share ;)

        we even had a female cat which, when she first went in heat, seemed to want to have sex with dad. Eventually she had to settle for a tomcat from the neighbourhood, though.

        Poor kitty was unlucky to be born into a family that

    • Wow, something must be seriously wrong with me... In the first sims I had the parents go for a swim, then took the ladder out of the pool. Poor little buggers did quite a few laps before finally going under.
      • That's nothing. I often liked getting a small house built at first, then trapping the person in a room that was two-by-two tiles across with no door or windows and just let them stay there just to create a tormented enough ghost to scare the hell out of the rest of the family. Then of course, was the people I made try to cook on the stove with absolutely no skills and ended up setting themselves on fire.
    • Then I suddenly realized that these sims are programmed to age and eventually die! I then started another family which I care much less about and refuse to load my original family because I can't bear the thought not only of their permanent passing - but of the distress it will cause the other sims!

      Really? Most of my sims end up starving to death in puddle of their own urine after being walled up in a windowsless/doorless house.
    • Another post that reads like ad copy. Sure I know that forum plants have been around for years, but I don't remember them being so blatent.
      • Please excuse me if I sound rude, but are you being serious? I don't know why I feel the need to reply to you about this - but the fact is I just happen to like this game. And mind you, I've only been playing it for a couple days, the allure could still wear off.

        Perhaps next time in order to assuage your paranioa that I am some marketing drone or something I will include things such as, "after feeling that the original sims was too old and reading largely negative reviews about the sims online, I decided to
    • Download and install the Insiminator [] mod. You can make many changes to how the game works including turning off the aging.
    • The dichotomy that we can at one moment be so attached to something like a video game character, a cat, a dog, a car, a robot, etc. yet still be such cold callous creatures to each other is one that always amazes me.

      Humans are, in my opinion, capable of being the most violent and disgusting animal inhabiting Earth.

      Genocide or borderline genocide is almost always going on in some part of the planet and the masses stand idly by.

      Millions of babies die each year from starvation with relatively few doing anythin
      • a downer, perhaps. But relevant, certainly.

        It is strange that even though I know it is wrong to spend the time that I do micro-managing the lives of imaginary entities when it would be better to spend such time finding ways to help the less fortunate, I still feel a direct connection to this false reality of my computer.

        I, like most geeks on this site, dontate regularly and frequently to many chairities. This makes me feel good. But beyond the donation I must be honest that I don't really spare much more th
    • But the game is so much more fun when your sims are miserable. Nothing is better than when I set it up so the career mom comes home and finds Dad in bed with the maid. It's poetry in motion. I know my work is done with Freud comes down to have a little chat with Mom. Then I lock her out of the bathroom and make the kids clean up the resulting mess. For Dad and the maid I arrange a little "cooking accident" in the kitchen with no fire extingisher, no phone, and no exit. Hauntings rule.

      I must be a sociop
  • by punxking ( 721508 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:54PM (#15396333)
    perform other hazardous duties previously done by humans alone

    ...that's pretty much true of my Roomba. Wait till I figure out how to make it do the dishes.
  • So.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by ( 780570 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:56PM (#15396356)
    So, uhh.. Awesomo.. are you a.. pleasure model?


    hey did that robot just fart?
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:56PM (#15396358) Journal
    This is my robot, there are very many like it but this one is mine....
  • Glueing robot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gibbled ( 215234 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:57PM (#15396362)
    I wish I had a robot that could apply glue.

    Would be much easier to bond with.
  • by dyslexicbunny ( 940925 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @02:59PM (#15396375)
    but you can't love your battle bot.
  • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <clipper377&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:00PM (#15396383) Homepage
    Soliders name their rifles, Pilots paint nose art on the planes. Roman legions probably named their swords. You develop an attachment to the things that you rely on and that serve you well. You can't trust that your buddy won't get killed tomorrow, but you can trust the fact that your M-16 will work as advertised.
    • by shis-ka-bob ( 595298 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:16PM (#15396528)
      I find it ironic that you used an M-16 as an example of 'reliable'. In the Vietnam War/Confict/Police Action, the M-16 had a terrible reputation for reliablity. The M-14 was considered tough and reliable, but the M-16 has a reputation as a plastic toy that fired 'varmit rounds' (22 caliber) and constantly jammed. The poor reliablity seemed to be due mainly to the fact that Eugine Stoner designed the gun to use gun cotton and the DOD used rounds with gun powder from a favored contractor. Stoner also designed the gun so that the bullets spun 'just enough' to fly straight for about 100 yards, but not so much that they wouldn't tumple upon impact (and cause signficant damage, even though they were only 22 calibre). The DOD forced Colt to increase the spin so that the range was extended but the letality was decreased. For jungle warfare, this seems like a really stupid tradeoff. Stoner designed a fine gun for close combat, but the DOD managed to mess it up.

      To be fair, the modern M-16 doesn't suffer from these woes. But the only reason it works as advertised is because enough people bitched that the beaurocrats and contractors had to back down and deliver the gun as originally designed.

      • Doesn't suffer much, but I've still had my M-16 jam or otherwise malfunction a few times.
      • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:02PM (#15396966)
        Stoner also designed the gun so that the...

        I can't tell if its a good thing or a bad thing to have a gun designed by a Stoner.

      • Powder: The DOD wanted the powder to be made from recycled artillery propellant from stocks left over from WW II. And so it was. Literally a cheap and dirty solution

        Spin: The twist was increased after Arctic testing showed the colder, denser air caused the bullet to tumble too early. Some potential combatants in the 60s did have Arctic winters.

        I thank my stars that I left Nam 2 months before my infantry company (Charlie, 1st Marines) had to trade in their M-14s.

      • I find it ironic that you used an M-16 as an example of 'reliable'.

        As it has been with many (most/all?) complex designs. The first few iterations are messed up. Design, build, test. Repeat until you get it right.

        Name a piece of military hardware, or anything really, that worked perfectly, out of the box, on time and under budget.

        Especially when you go way out of the box and build something completely different. F-111, V-22 Osprey, Harrier, Bradley, Patriot, just to name a few.

    • but you can trust the fact that your M-16 will work as advertised.

      I'm sorry, you misspelled "will jam up the first time someone sneezes in the general direction of the barrel, and won't work until it has a complete teardown and clean."

      There's a reason the US Army drills over and over again on how to quickly take apart, clean, and reassemble your weapon... and it's not because of a sterling reliability record.

      In other news though, your general concept is right... just replace "but you can trust the fact tha
    • It was made by the lowest bidder.
    • You can't trust that your buddy won't get killed tomorrow, but you can trust the fact that your M-16 will work as advertised.

      That comments reminds me of the advice Conan's father gives him about his sword at the beginning of Conan the Barbarian []:

      The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan you must learn its discipline. For no one, no one in this world can you trust, not men, not women, not beasts. This you can trust.

      Later in the movie Conan gets tied to t

  • Easy to explain (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ubergrunt ( 888725 )
    If you ever did military, you'd know that you're always teached that "your rifle/gun/whatever shoots and can save your life" is your best friend. "Treat it with respect, clean it, oil it & keep it runnin smooth so when you need it, it works." as the teaching goes. Now, if they teach that for your gun that doesn't move or obeys you with a remote and still, people do get connected to it, imagine with a little robot. Think of it like a Tamagochi and you'll see that it's the same principle. With a robot tha
  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:01PM (#15396398)
    How about a film where the soldier abandons his robot in the desert, because the robot keeps calling him "daddy" and it's creepy. And then the robot sets off on a quest to understand itself, and meets up with a sex doll and goes looking for the "Green Hummer"? The film ends with Harrison Ford telling the robot it has no end date, and they drive into the mountains together. Captain Adama lands in a spaceship, leaves a little oragami unicorn on a ledge, and then the hot Cylon chick shows up and takes off her shirt.

    Just came to me. I better write the outline before I forget.
  • A guy who joins the army ends up falling in love with a robot. Oo yeah. It was on arrested development. Though he didn't love the Packbot he loved the Rhoomba if you get what I mean. ;)
  • by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:09PM (#15396459)
    Soldier: "What's a nice robot like you doing in a place like this?"
    Robot: "I'm looking to set something off? How about you?"
    Soldier: "Well I'm certainly armed now"
    Robot: "You're not one of those 3 minute timer types are you?"
    Soldier: "No mam, ever watch BSG?"
    Robot: "No"
    Soldier: "Good, mind if I call you #6?"
    Robot: "Anything is fine but 'Rosie'"
    Soldier: "Great, care to get out of here *Rosie* ?"
    Robot grabbing soldier's PED (Personal "Explosive" Device): "Time to cut the wire funny boy"
    Soldier: "No...a 3G Terminator unit.....NO!!!!!"

  • ...with the Exocomps [].
  • *BOOM*

    *gasp!* Linguo! Dead?


  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @03:23PM (#15396610) Homepage
    No disassemble!
  • Bingo! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by MarkusQ ( 450076 )

    Ok, I just had a great idea that I don't have time to follow up on. So I'll offer it here for anyone who wants to to run with, with my blessing.

    From today:

    300 PackBot Tactical Mobile Robots deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan to open doors in urban combat, lay fiber-optic cable, defuse bombs and perform other hazardous duties previously done by humans alone.

    From day before yesterday:

    A recent post on the CERIAS weblogs examines the risks associated with reporting vulnerabilities. In the end, he advis

    • Me, I think it's useful when American reporters don't divulge American secrets. Nice to keep everyone's head on their shoulders that way.
      • Me, I think it's useful when we don't have American secrets for reporters to divulge...
        I prefer accountability to ignorance.
  • One word... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    To all the responders asking "how can this be" -Anthropomorphism [].

    People act that way towards their cars, too. At least, the dumber (jock type;) ones do.
  • hdtv writes "Reuters is running a story that talks about the emotional bonds that US soldiers develop with the robots in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The company, most famous on the US market for its Roomba vacuum cleaner

    What company? Reuters?

    I know we can't expect the editors to edit but could people please pay attention when they submit a story, since we all know that the editors are asshats?

  • by OhEd ( 877009 )
    Is No one else reminded of 'Appliantology'?'s_Garage []
  • on a personal note (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BugDoomBug ( 965033 ) <> on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:12PM (#15397026) Homepage
    I was in OIF I and OIF III. I can tell you while I didn't have a robot at any point you do develop these odd co-dependant relationships with certain items, more-so with the clunky ones for certain reasons. In OIF I it was our truck, named "Jihad Joe".

    The thing about Jihad Joe is it was a piece of crap, but it was our piece of crap retarded truck. We had to constantly work on it, we modified the hell out of it due to lack of parts and our special needs - spider webbing harnesses for storage, ghetto-rigged the cooling system, wired a DC converter to the battery and hooked a laptop into the SINGARS radio so we could do low-baudrate but secure data burst transmissions off of it (via hyper terminal, yes, very ghetto). The truck was constantly on the verge of death, got some bullet holes, took shrapnel, had a van friggin smash into the side of it, and it got a black eye (headlight busted out).

    However the truck saved us many times, and always responded well to our on the fly fixes we had to do while we were out in the city. We limped it back home on many occasions, and we lived out of the vehicle sleeping on it or in it for about 4 straight months and off and on during other periods.

    We became very attached to this, partially because we had to work on it so often and in so many ways. We had a co-dependant relationship, and we felt both sides recognized this. We wouldn't abandon it or scrap it, and in turn it would not leave us totally screwed, like some of the better vehicles that when they broke there was no getting them started again. Our truck was a member of our team.

    So, parallel that with these robots, the things are high maintenance, and anyone who has had to PMCS anything in the military can tell you that. these guys sweat keeping it running, and it in turn serves a specific function which helps keep them safe. They become unit mascots, a member of the team, much more than a piece of equipment. You are around these things all the time for a long period, you screw around with it in the barracks and get it to fetch your lighter for you or pour water on your sleeping roommate. It becomes one of the guys and develops a personality.

    In summary, just from personal experience, this is not surprising.
  • I've lost R2! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:13PM (#15397035) Journal
    But reading the article, I thought of Star Wars.

    CHIEF: This R2 unit of your seems a bit beat up. Do you want a new

    LUKE: Not on your life! That little droid and I have been through a
    lot together. (to Artoo) You okay, Artoo?


    LUKE: Oh, no!

    THREEPIO: Oh, my! Artoo! Can you hear me? Say something! (to mechanic)
    You can repair him, can't you?

    TECHNICIAN: We'll get to work on him right away.

    THREEPIO: You must repair him! Sir, if any of my circuits or gears
    will help, I'll gladly donate them.

  • I guess i am not the only one here that feels a certain 'bond' to my primary PCs, and i really try to give them somthing useful (routing, fileserving, whatever) to do after i can't use them as my primary workstations anymore. Nonsense, if you think about it, but i still do it.
    What i found most interesting about this 'bonding' was to figure out exactly what i was bonding to: if i replace a video-card, some RAM or even the CPU, i still 'feel' as if it's the same machine, even though it obviously isn't. I gue
  • So what? My wife had an emotional bond with our '92 Stanza. She almost cried when we gave it up three years ago. Just because these machines are robots doesn't make them more subject to anthropomorphization by their users. Soldiers and airmen have always named their tanks and planes and treated them like family.

  • Dave: Hal, could you...?
    HAL: Don't ask, don't tell Dave.
  • OIF 3 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FiveDollarYoBet ( 956765 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @04:51PM (#15397317)
    I was in OIF 3 and we did a lot of 'escort the EOD guys' missions. I wouldn't say that we developed an attachment to their robots but I know that without them those EOD guys would've been hating life.

    And yes, we did name them.... The big one was Johnny 5, the little one was Johnny 2 1/2.

  • Superglue (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ranger ( 1783 )
    The only thing that'll bond a soldier to a robot is superglue. Someone's watched Star Wars one too many times. It's a machine. If you put the robot in a larger context, we do develop emotional attachments to cars and boats. And we tend to anthropomorphize things like that. There are times when you bang your head on a car trunk lid that you'd wish it could feel pain and you wish you could knock the crap out of it.

    Calling it a bond is the wrong word. A toaster cannot tell you it loves you. Well unless someo
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @08:35PM (#15398437)
    My mother anthropomorphizes her computer to a degree thats crazy (I swear, if I told her sacrificing a squirrel on the keyboard would get rid of popups... fear for the local wildlife). I'm not quite that bad, but I almost did feel... wrong when I started using my new Dell after 5 years with my last one. Like the feel of a new baseball glove you haven't broken in yet, you know? OK, so maybe thats the wrong analogy on slashdot...

    And I know I do it all the time with programs. Who *hasn't* said "Come on baby, work with me here, no NPE no NPE no NPE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I HATE YOU!"

  • Ask a paramedic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:50PM (#15398700) Homepage Journal
    If somebody depends on a piece of equipment to protect his life, he develops a bond to it. For example, motorcyclists (seasoned ones, anyway) ride with a heavy thought in their mind: "If I fuck this up, I die." Then they move in a certain way and the bike moves like it's a part of them and they're both out of trouble. Riders really, really bond with their bikes, 'cause their bikes keep them happy and alive.

    So if you ever have a conversation with a paramedic, ask them about bike accidents they've responded to. Ask them what the motorcyclist keeps saying over and over again. The guy will have bone sticking out of his leg, and all he'll say is, "Dude! Is my bike okay?"

    Seasoned EMTs have a canned response: "Couple of dings, paint's scratched, but she'll be fine." Once you get that thought of the rider's head you can get around to the "oriented times three" questions.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson