I normally speak to local issues, that is our charter here. I've been out of work due to a broken arm and spend more time than usual 'crawling the web". I give you a selection of items I have found amusing. Warning: this is what can happen when you simply has too much time on your hands.
No matter how stupid you may feel over some recent goof; there is someone dumber. Today in Norfolk Virginia 11 Somalis were charged with piracy and are subject to mandatory life sentences. Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden has become a cottage industry and too often a profitable one, most shipping companies end up paying the ransom to get crews and cargoes returned. This case involves two separate, but similar incidents. Both cases, these homebrewed pirates, small craft, handheld weapons up to RPGs took on US Naval warcraft, in one case the frigate USS Nicholas, the other an amphibious landing ship USS Ashland.
I've seen pictures of both US ships and they look like just what they are; about 650' of heavily armed, well-crewed warships. The story of the ambitious ant crawling up an elephant's leg with rape as his intent comes to mind.
As long as we are on Naval issues, Sec. of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today that the next San Antonio class Amphibious Transport Ship will be the USS John P Murtha. San Antonio class ships are more modern cousins of the Ashland mentioned above. Such ships are designed to deliver up to 700 Marines and supplies with air coverage and transport capability to wherever in the world.
It is customary at this point to include language about "mean no disrespect for the dead", but in this case, I cannot do even that. The recently deceased Murtha was a king of the "earmark" second only to Robert Byrd, Murtha was well known in Pennsylvania for plastering his name on anything that would stand still long enough for the paint to dry. More to the point, Murtha had accused the Marine Corps of systemic abuse and war crimes against Iraqi civilians, a charge he had to withdraw for lack of evidence. To say the Corps is unhappy with the naming is a huge understatement and it was a tone-deaf move on Mabus' part. A popular suggestion in the blogoshere is to name a Naval "head" after Murtha, which I guess would be the John john. Or dedicate the USS Murtha to hauling supplies of pork. Three of the ships in this class are the USS New York, Arlington and Somerset, each named for a 9/11 crash site.
On to a topic just quivering of its weightiness, an Islamic cleric, one Hojatolesam Kazem Sedighi has announced that recent earthquakes have been caused by women who go about (in his opinion) indecently dressed. A Purdue University senior, one Jennifer McCreight, has taken issue with both the politics and the physics of the cleric's allegation and is inviting women around the world to protest by going about next Monday more um, skimpily attired than usual. Now this is "community activism" I can support! I hope we see full coverage of the uncoverage on the cable news channels. If the house falls in due to earthquake Tuesday, I retract all of the above, and Jan will start wearing a veil.
As serious as it has been for air travel, the story of the Iceland volcano has provided some amusement. The name of the volcano is Eyjafjallokull. Care to try to say that out loud? Don't bother, I've seen a phonetic rendering of it, unless you are Icelandic you will get it wrong. I caught a montage of brave but foolish local newscasters trying to wrap their English tongues around this name.
Anyone remember Gary Gilmore (Let's do it) the famous Utah death penalty inmate who insisted on death by firing squad? We got another one, Ronnie Lee Gardner who killed an attorney in an escape attempt, 1977. Utah has changed the law, now does lethal injection, but Gardner's case pre-dates the change, he is still allowed to choose. This will be a predictable media circus.
On to sports, some still claim baseball is the American passtime. Facts seem to argue otherwise. Last night the opening round of the NFL draft outdrew NBA playoff games. NOT a football game, but live broadcast of the draft! Me, I read it this AM, I'd as soon watched grass grow, but there it is. Also yesterday, Yankees/Bosox, A-Rod initiated the first triple play for the Yankees in 40 years! And the Yankees managed to lose the game! When I was a kid, this would have been front-page, above-the-fold headlines.
Don't know if they still do, but science teachers in my day (about Paleolithic it seems) would take a helium balloon, have one of us breathe it and then speak in a high-pitched, squeaky voice. Object was to demonstrate the higher velocity of lighter gasses. Judge Matthew Sciarrino has cleared the Manhatten DA (think Jack McCoy on Law & Order) to proceed with prosecution of a ballon seller outside Madison Square Gardens at a Phish concert for "distribution of a noxious substance". Seems the arresting officer observed "unnamed, unarrested persons" inhaling a balloon, I'm guessing doing the same amusing thing my science teacher did 40 years ago. Officer Nosy then busted the vendor. Texans should feel insulted, the field out of Amarillo is America's only natural source of helium. If helium was the most "noxious" substance at a Phish concert the kids of today just ain't trying.
OK, just a few selections from the dream factory. One note, this Sunday WTOS will present a candidates' forum, 3:00 PM at St Paul's church, N MLK, another chance to see who's running May 8. Later this weekend I'll be going through our trash from the truck's point of view.