(A response perhaps, but one that fits under this node.)
Believe it or not, I didn't find out about Dale Earnhardt's (is that how you spell it?) death until a few days after the fact. In our college apartment, you see, we don't have cable, about the only news I read is Slashdot and sometimes New York Times Web, and the only radio I listen to is NPR. When I found out about the demise of Mr. Earnhardt, it was through Salon.com, of all places, and the person who wrote the essay detailing his death was not exactly sympathetic.
The fact is, I agree completely with the Salon guy (though his essay was a little rambly). The fact that the name "Dale Earnhardt" exists in my memory means that many more neurons can't be used for some other purpose, one which I might find useful. I consider auto racing to be a vastly over-rated sport. Sure, these are people who risk their lives every time they get behind the wheel, but I refuse to allocate to them a supply of honor for choosing to take part in a very dangerous sport. I live in a portion of the United States in which auto racing is not only popular, but inescapable. For everyone out there in the rest of the country who are inwardly cringing at the media blitz, well, it has almost become a way of life for yours truly.
Back to Earnhardt. It is not really my intent, here, to complain bitterly about how his passing has trumped the media. It is my intent to complain bitterly about how the media makes a big deal about anyone's passing at all who is not a head-of-state. So Earnhardt is dead. Yahoo. Yes, it is a shame and a tragedy, but not particularly in excess over anyone else who has died, and there have been billions of them. His widow and kids deserve a great measure of sympathy, it is true, but not in excess of anyone else who has had a loved one die. Unfortunately, if everyone who deserved such sympathy got it, we would be forever in mourning -- it is a world filled with unfairness and cruelty, and spread evenly among us, we would be substantially sadder people. And I hate to say it, and I realize that this is could be considered in poor taste, but... in the particular sport in which he participated, this sort of thing does tend to happen a bit more often than in, say, basketball. In short, to paraphrase Super Chicken, he knew the job was dangerous when he took it.