My partner Eric and I were traveling in Portugal in a rented car. The car only took diesel fuel, and we had difficulty figuring out whether particular pumps dispensed diesel. Eric tried to use one pump, which didn’t seem to fit. We asked an attendant, who seemed quite surly. He shoved the ill-fitting pump into the car. About 20 minutes later, on the highway, the car stopped working. The repair people who came to help us told us that the car had been filled with regular fuel.
Eric and I decided that the attendant had disliked us, perhaps because we were American, and had done this on purpose. My sister heard this story; her take was that surely the attendant just made a mistake. She asked ‘don’t you prefer to think of it that way’? Eric and I didn’t, but she did.
One suggestion that’s been made about the marathon bombings is that they could have been stopped given what the FBI knew or had reason to know about the elder brother. Is this comforting—or not? Do we prefer to think somebody knew enough, but didn’t act on their knowledge? Or would we prefer to think that it could not have been stopped? Read More