Category ►►► News of the Weird

March 27, 2012

Greasing My Spindle Regurgitated

Educational Elucidations , Energy Woes and Wows , News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

To recap, John Hinderaker at Power Line sporatically adds to a series he calls "slucing my spindle" or "polishing my pole" or somesuch (I forget), wherein he collates several quick hits on newsy items that either don't warrant a full post, or to which he was too lazy to publish in a timelier manner.

Since I'm even lazier than he, I have heisted the concept complete, and now I pretend that it's my own and hope nobody notices. Thus...

A twelve hundred mile reality gap

This one is too delicious to pass up: Trying to "deflect" the ire of Americans over four-dollar gas -- set to rise to five-dollar gas this summer -- President Barack H. "Gas Passer" Obama has finally, if reluctantly, embraced the Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas. Yazoo, yakima!

Oh, wait; it was the part over which the president has no authority... and he "authorized" only the half of it anyway: Obama is willing to "jump start" the (already scheduled) project to build the southern half of the pipeline... you know, that part that doesn't connect to the oilfields in Canada. So this authorized/unauthorized pipeline can just sit there as a monument to liberalism at its smirkiest:

"Despite numerous attempts by Republicans to compel the president to approve the Keystone permit, Americans are still left with a 1,179-mile (1,897-km) gap between the oil resources and this southern portion of the pipeline," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, referring to the full Keystone XL project.

Well! Who could argue with that Solomonic compromise? We build half the pipeline -- the half that doesn't connect to anything but an oil storage depot in Cushing, Oklahoma. As the saying goes, a man should not commence vast projects with only half-vast ideas.

I wonder if voters will get the joke.

BFF in the UK

There are some Progressivist ideas that simply scream for a mass "WTF?" Such as:

Teachers are banning schoolkids from having best pals -- so they don't get upset by fall-outs.

Instead, the primary pupils are being encouraged to play in large groups.

Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said the policy has been used at schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey.

She added: "I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn't have a best friend and that everyone should play together.

What could go wrong?

Say, why don't we extend the policy to adults, as well? The British government could ban men and women from falling in love; think how painful it will be if they break up or get divorced!

And of course, they should ban career planning because of the severe shock if employees don't get promoted... or in Britain's case, employed at all.

I love the idea; it's so efficient: Rather than waste time and effort improving one's lot, isn't it better just to reject hope altogether? That way, you'll never be disappointed again.

Eurosocialist Progressivism: Leading the free world in institutionalized despair as public policy!

John Paul III he ain't

Pope Benedict XVI (no relation to Napoleon the XIV, as I understand it) courageously announced today that Communism is no longer working in Cuba:

His remarks on Friday were at least as forthright as any made by his predecessor, John Paul II, on a groundbreaking trip to the country 14 years ago. Answering a question about his visit to Cuba, which has remained a communist bastion for more than 50 years, the pope said: "Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

Actually, I suspect that Pope John Paul II might have been a skosh more forthright. He might have inquired, after Benedict said Communism was no longer working, when did it ever? Yes, it was working like gangbusters for the first few decades; then something went terribly, terribly wrong!

Or he might have quoted his famous friend and simply left it at, "there you go again!"

Zimmerman's dreadful mistake

The current stories dominating the news the last few days, anent the confrontation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, hold that it was Martin (the "victim") who first assaulted and then battered Zimmerman (the "assailant") -- rather than the other way around. Zimmerman claims that Martin punched him in the nost hard enough to knock him to the ground, then straddled him and repeatedly banged Zimmerman's head against the sidewalk. It was only then, emerging evidence suggests, that Zimmerman drew and shot Martin at point-blank range.

Aren't we glad that the President of the United States has already weighed in with his support for Trayvon Martin (and subtextual judgment that George Zimmerman is a despicable racist and murderer)?

Assuming the current claims prove correct -- and the police have admitted that the physical evidence seems to back Zimmerman up -- then I would have to say the plain implication is that Zimmerman did indeed make a terrible, and ultimately deadly mistake.

He should have drawn his gun earlier.

Zimmerman should have drawn his concealed pistol as soon as Martin began to approach him in a menacing manner. Had he done so, Zimmerman could have controlled the situation better; it's even possible that Martin would have backed off -- and Trayvon Martin might be alive today.

So the lesson for today is... if you are armed, and if a situation begins to develop that warrants an act of self defense (or defense of another), then earlier is better than later. The longer you wait, the less control you likely have over events.

Hey -- it's just like war! As Winston Churchill noted (paraphrasing Machiavelli), if a nation puts off a war that is inevitable (think Iran), a very likely outcome is that when the war finally comes, it will be significantly harder to win and much more devastating.

Something to think about; even the smallest stone thrown into the most local lake can create ripples of national and even international import. And on that pompous yet sententious note...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 27, 2012, at the time of 11:32 PM | Comments (9)

January 14, 2011

Greasing My Spindle - Yet Again

News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

Yes, I confess: I'm a serial spindle-greaser. Here are a few quickies from today's news...

With liberty, fraternity, and equality for all

In a recent survey by AP-GfK on the state of racial equality, 77% of respondents believe there has been significant progress towards that MLK-enunciated dream, statistically unchanged from the 75% who answered that way in 2006, before Barack H. Obama was elected president. Some quoted in the story lament that, "Just over one in five, 22 percent, say they feel there has been 'no significant progress' toward that dream."

I wonder what portion of that 22% comprises folks who have been closely following the follies and foibles of Attorney General Eric Holder's putative "Justice" Department.

But what puzzled me was this bit near the end:

The new poll also shows most of the nation in support of the King holiday. Three-quarters of those surveyed this year say King's birthday should be so honored, with 84 percent of non-white respondents believing so, compared to 68 percent of white respondents. Younger adults are also more apt to feel the birthday deserves the honor, as 81 percent among those under 50 years old supported the holiday, compared to 66 percent among those 50 to 64 and 62 percent among seniors.

The civil rights icon, who would have turned 82 on Saturday, is the only American who was not a U.S. president honored with a federal holiday.

Um, did I miss some holiday? I am completely unaware of any U.S. president honored with a federal holiday... indeed, any other American who is so honored at all. (Columbus was either a Portuguese or a Spaniard, depending whether you go by birth or residency.)

I've heard of something called Presidents Day; but I've also heard of Veterans Day -- and none of them is singled out by name either.

I wonder how many layers of editorial fact-checking that line sailed through? Perhaps the press-release transcribers at AP should take to wearing pajamas; it might improve their reportorial accuracy.

The jackass got his nose inside the tent

Via the Washington Times, we learn that the nanny State has segued into the school-dietician State:

The Obama administration ratcheted up its war on childhood obesity Thursday with a new set of federal rules that would limit the number of calories allowed in government-subsidized school meals, banning most trans fats while increasing the amounts of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The proposals, issued by the Agriculture Department, represent the first major revamping of school lunch guidelines in 15 years. The rules would apply to all full and partially subsidized meals and could affect 32 million children.

Yowza. As I noted before (see below), free and subsidized lunches are offered to tremendously more students than merely those who live in poverty:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are approximately 49.4 million students enrolled in K-12 education.
  • According to the U.S. Census, approximately 17.6% of all American residents under the age of 18 live below the poverty line.
  • A little quick math tells us that, if we assume that kids actually attending school are not more likely to live in poverty than kids not attending school (it seems a pretty reasonable assumption -- they're probably less likely), then there should be about 8.7 million schoolchildren living below the poverty line.
  • Instead, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture above, there are 32 million schoolkids getting government-subsidized lunches; in other words, a whopping 65% of all schoolkids get free or low-cost lunch from the federal government.

In the absence of school-lunch programs (and school-breakfast programs, and even school-dinner programs), the vast majority of those kids would not starve; they would get their meals form their parents, as I did. Mom somehow managed to give me adequate lunches (often leftovers from yesterday's dinner, generally delicious; or else baloney and butter sandwiches, equally fine)... despite the fact that she was a working, single mother, as my parents were divorced when I was two years old. But as Michelle Obama says, "We can’t just leave [what kids eat] up to the parents."

Of course not; it takes a village to give a kid a sandwich. A federal village, at that!

Today's announcement from the AgDept is simply the fulfillment of Mrs. Obama's glorious progressivist crusade -- can we use that warlike word in this era of nicey-nice rhetoric? -- to "subsidize and regulate what children eat before school, at lunch, after school, and during summer vacations in federally funded school-based feeding programs."

We discussed this monstrosity at length in Food for Abuse, posted last December; I commend that article to your attention again.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 14, 2011, at the time of 6:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 16, 2010

Senator on the Grassy Knoll

Liberal Lunacy , News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

Jake Tapper of ABC published a bombshell column hinting that the change of heart of switch-hitting Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA, 75%) anent Elena Kagan, Barack H. Obama's embattled Supreme Court nominee -- Specter was against her before he was for her -- may have little to do with any new fact. Rather, it appears to have a great deal to do with Specter's terror of having to find honest work after an ignominious finish to his lusterless Senate career, hence a burning desire to "remain in public service after his Senate term ends at the end of this session."

Tapper reports that "White House officials are keeping an open mind about possible job openings for him;" one presumes that the more Arlen Specter switches votes to coincide with Obamic positions, the more of an open mind the administration will keep.

But today, Jake Tapper updated his column with speculation that the first administration job Specter seeks is to be named a Middle East czar, so to speak:

Would Specter be interested in being a special envoy to help negotiate peace between Israel and Syria?

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported this week that he has been exploring such a role with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Specter has long ties to both Syria and Israel.

All this is prelude, however, to my real point, which is altogether trivial compared to the giant ideological principles bashing about overhead, but much more to Lizardian tastes. I was mesmerized by the last paragraph of Tapper's update:

Some who know Specter say he's eager to go out with a bang -- to have a more majestic career-ender -- and not to be known in perpetuity as a party switcher, an inquisitor of Anita Hill, or as a leading advocate on the Warren Commission of the single-bullet theory.

Anybody notice how the saloon fell dead silent the moment Specter walked through that swinging door?

All right, I can see how a man wouldn't want Runagate-gate to tar him for the rest of his life. And having turned his coat to the Democrats, he certainly doesn't want anyone to remember his effective cross-examination of Anita Hill, at the highjacked hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But -- when did advocacy of the "single-bullet theory" in the JFK assassination become a career killer in American politics... or even Democratic politics?

Does this mean Arlen Specter now supports the discredited conjecture of a second Kennedy assassin sitting on the gassy gnome, or in the Dal-Tex building across the street from Oswald's perch in the book suppository?

What other conspiracy theories must Specter now embrace in order to get that czarship... that we faked the Moon landing using a Revelle Lunar Module model? That 911 was an inside job by Rightwing moles, Israeli commandos, or Bureau 13 of the BSA? That both the Pentagon and TWA Flight 800 were hit by missiles, possibly fired from Hugo Drax's secret orbital space station? That the CIA deliberately started the AIDS epidemic in a bid to exterminate the race of senatorial party-switchers?

It appears that one requirement for membership in good standing in today's Democratic Party is ardent and visible lunacy: Arlen Specter may be trying to ingratiate himself with the likes of Valerie Jarrett, Van Jones, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX, 95%).

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 16, 2010, at the time of 1:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 11, 2010

Sixteen Year Old Would-Be World Circumnavigator Found - Alive, Well, and Still Afloat

News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

According to AP, Abby Sunderland, the sixteen year old girl who was bidding to become the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat, has been spotted and contacted by an Airbus A330. They spoke to her via radio, and she is okay; her boat is upright and still afloat:

A family spokesman says searchers have contacted a 16-year-old Southern California girl who was feared lost at sea and she is alive and well.

William Bennett with "Team Abby" said Thursday that searchers aboard an Airbus A330 spotted her boat in an upright position and made contact with her via radio. Bennett said Sunderland said she was doing fine and had plenty of food.

He says a fishing vessel is en route to pick her up.

Abby Sunderland

Skipper Abby Sunderland

Her last previous contact with her family was approximately 7:00 am Thursday (EDT). She reported severe swells and bad weather; she activated two emergency beacons, then... silence. For nearly 17 hours, many thought she might have been lost at sea.

The rescue will end her sailing challenge this time; I suspect she won't be able to mount another expedition in time to break the record. Had she succeeded, she would have wrested the title away from -- her older brother, Zac Sunderland. He succeeded in 2008-9 (the trip took thirteen months), finishing after turning seventeen.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 11, 2010, at the time of 12:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2008

The Outlaw Bikers

News of the Weird
Hatched by Dave Ross

I edit a small community newspaper in rural San Diego County called The Roadrunner, and last weekend my community had an experience the likes of which I don’t remember in my 30 years in the field.

We were “occupied” territory. Over the weekend the outlaw biker gang the Mongols, 500 or so of them, roared through on their way to the La Jolla Indian Reservation, to a small campground along the San Luis Rey River, for a “retreat.”

The Mongols have been designated an “outlaw” group by the California Attorney General’s office. There are actually four “outlaw” motorcycle gangs so identified by the FBI, and they are the Pagans, Hells Angels, Outlaws MC, and Bandidos. All are called “outlaw” because their primary source of funding is selling drugs, trafficking stolen goods and extortion. Their status is such that they can be prosecuted under the racketeering statutes (i.e. RICO).

They have nothing to do with respectable groups of people who get together to ride their Harleys for recreation and whose one “outlaw” characteristic may be that they like to play Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” loudly on the stereo when they ride.

Nice people. But I suppose even bad guys deserve to get away from it all and get back to nature occasionally. Hence the retreat.

I think the Mongols is a particularly appropriate name for an outlaw gang since in many ways, the modern motorcycle gang is rather like the migratory bands of old, such as the Bedouins of the Arab deserts or, if you will, the Mongols. Like sharks, they live to move. If they have their way they would never stay in one place for very long.

Way up at the top of this article I said that for a weekend we were “occupied” territory. I don’t mean by the Mongols. I mean by the police, who deployed hundreds of officers in a degree of force that I didn’t see even at the height of the wildfires last October.

I believe that one reason for the overwhelming show of force that this visit was met with was because there were rumors that the Hell’s Angels, another outlaw biker gang, were planning to visit the same area, although not the same campground.

The Mongols have an ongoing blood feud with the Hell’s Angels. In 2002 they clashed in Laughlin, Nevada. Guns blazed. Blood flowed. Worse -- because it happened in a casino -- the flow of money stopped for several hours.

The focus of law enforcment’s efforts was along State Highway 76, which runs from Oceanside to Lake Henshaw, particularly along perhaps 20 miles between Interstate 15 and Lake Henshaw. Along this strip of road things were, to put it mildly, a little unreal.

I was out on that highway quite a bit during the weekend. I saw patrols of Sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers in convoys of six squad cars apiece, moving up and down the highway. If the Mongols remind me of the nomads of old, these folks reminded me of the cavalry patrols of the Old West.

In addition to the patrols shuttling back and forth along the length of the highway, the police were also stationed at strategic intersections, with only a mile or two intervals between them. Here groups of cops, often outfitted in SWAT gear, with automatic rifles at the ready, giving everyone the eye as they drove by.

Living in Iraq must be like that.

I asked the Sheriff’s lieutenant in charge how many deputies were deployed. He declined to answer, saying that he didn’t want to reveal the details of the deployment in case he needed to do it again.

I had a photographer out that weekend too. He visited the Indian reservation where he ran into one or two of the outlaw bikers. They treated him with respect, but asked that he not take their photos.

The deputies were a little less polite, for whatever reason, and also in the majority of cases didn’t want their pictures taken. But they were on high alert, I suppose, so being polite was probably not part of the job. However, in my opinion, it is when tension is at its height, and the pressure is on, that we need to keep a watch on the watchers. In a free society that includes being allowed to take pictures.

I was never stopped as I went about my business that weekend, but quite a few people were, mostly, it seemed motorcyclists, although a heavily bearded friend of mine who is a wood sculptor and wears blue jean overalls and drives a beat up pickup truck was also stopped, or so I’m told.

There are a lot of eccentric people who live in San Diego’s Backcountry. If you stop them all you will create a bit of a traffic bottleneck. Fortunately the police didn’t stop them all.

The news was that after all that, there was no news to speak of. I’m not one who faulted the police for overreacting. I think they did exactly the right thing. But it did give me a creepy feeling to get a taste, and not a sweet one, of what it is like to live under occupation. A police state, even for the best of reasons -- and aren’t the reasons always the best? -- is not a pretty thing.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, June 13, 2008, at the time of 9:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

Cindy Sheehan's Day of Out-of-Tunement Manifesto

Afghan Astonishments , Asquirmative Action , Dhimmi of the Month , Domestic Terrorism , Drama Kings and Queens , Econ. 101 , Enviro-Mental Cases , Hippy Dippy Peacenik Groove , History of Moral Philosophy , Illiberal Liberalism , Impeachment Imbecilities , Iraq Matters , Kriminal Konspiracies , Liberal Lunacy , Logical Lacunae , News of the Weird , Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , Politics 101 , Scurrilous Scribblings , Terrorism Intelligence , Unnatural Disasters , Unuseful Idiots
Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely do this, as you know: I rarely link to some piece and say simply "read this." (I'm too in love with the sound of my own fingers typing on a keyboard.)

But here's an exception. Read Cindy Sheehan's Yom Kippur "sermon," delivered at Michael Lerner's Beyt Tikkun "synogogue;" you will be -- if not exactly glad, then at least agape. (Rabbi Lerner is Hillary Clinton's mentor, author of the Politics of Meaning and other works of Socialist agit-prop masquerading as theology.)

My response (I love this) is entirely contained in the list of categories I had to attach to this post.

(Well, one more thing. It has always been my understanding that Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a day for each person to atone for what he, personally, has done wrong -- not "atone" for his enemies failing to live up to his own lofty standards, apologize for all the times America hasn't followed his lead, or wallow in self-righteous indignation that nobody listens to him. 'Nuff said; read the list of categories above.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2007, at the time of 2:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 26, 2007

Shoot the Chute

News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

This is just kind of a creepy story; I'm only interested because it almost exactly parallels a book proposal I pitched a number of years ago... which was rejected for being too unrealistic.

Two gals are best friends (this is in the town of Opglabbeek, Belgium). They're both skydivers... but one starts having an affair with the other gal's weirdo boyfriend.

The cheatin' skydiver, her girlfriend, the cheatin' boyfriend, and an extra in a red shirt jump out of a perfectly good airplane. They form a "star." Four jumpers split apart and pull their ripcords; three parachutes pop open.

The cheatin' girl plummets earthward. Astonishingly, even her reserve chute fails. After a 13,000-foot freefall, she smacks into the ground in front of a bunch of spectators, planting herself deep enough that all they had to do was shovel some dirt over the top.

But when the authorities review the footage from her helmet cam, they realize that both her chutes had been sabotaged... and now her best friend, the girl whose boyfriend was having an affair with the dead girl, has been arrested for premeditated murder.

Here's a clip from the eulogy by the dead girl's sister:

At Mrs Van Doren’s funeral, about 1,000 people heard her sister deliver a bitter eulogy. “You did all you could during that final jump to save yourself,” she was quoted as saying in the Belgian press. “But someone did not want you to live.”

Huh, maybe I should dust off my proposal and make the rounds again... nah -- now they'd just say, "it's too derivative!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2007, at the time of 1:21 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 9, 2006

Be Off, Or I'll Kick You Downstairs!

News of the Weird , Politics - Internationalia
Hatched by Dafydd

Mentally unstable Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is now threatening to expel U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield from the country... for the crime of having been hounded by a Venezuelan mob.

No, really. This isn't a rib. Yesterday, an independent mob of independent protesters independently decided to chase after Brownfield's motorcade, pelting his car with independent eggs and independently thumping on the windows whenever the vehicle was slowed by traffic. A police car tailed the independents, doing nothing to stop them... but of course, there was no connection between the hooligans and the Chavez government; they are totally independent.

And today, Chavez went on TV to publicly threaten to punish our ambassador to Venezuela by expelling him:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the U.S. ambassador was "provoking the Venezuelan people" and threatened Sunday to expel the American diplomat, whose convoy was chased by pro-government protesters.

"I'm going to throw you out of Venezuela if you continue provoking the Venezuelan people," Chavez said in a nationally televised speech addressed to U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield.

And how, exactly, did Ambassador Brownfield provoke the Venezuelan people?

Brownfield had visited a ballpark in Caracas' Catia slums, a Chavez stronghold, to donate baseball equipment to a youth league.

The Los Angeles Times, hardly a chum of President Bush or his ambassadors, gives a few more details about Ambassador Brownfield's crime spree (hat tip Captain Ed):

Brownfield was handing out baseball gloves, bats and catchers' equipment to 140 youths at a sports stadium when several dozen protesters showed up and began throwing objects at the ambassador, U.S. officials said.

An official who identified himself as police commander Luis Villasana then approached Brownfield and ordered him and his staff out of the stadium.

Brownfield was accompanied by two former Major League Baseball players from Venezuela and had addressed a crowd that included the youths' parents. Before leaving, he told reporters at the scene that his intention had been to show baseball "as transcending politics."

Protesters on about 12 motorcycles then chased the ambassador's motorcade after he left the stadium and continued to throw objects at the car and pound on it when his vehicle became stuck in traffic, witnesses said.

This particular riot was witnessed by many Venezuelans. Presumably most of the country then writhed as they suffered through the spectacle of el Presidente threatening to expel an ambassador for his perfidy in handing out baseball equipment to a local youth baseball league.

If they follow the news, they must also know that Chavez repeatedly accuses the United States of sundry bizarre plots and conspiracies against his life (exploding cigars, perhaps?) They know that their President-for-Life has danced as close as he can to initiating a war with the U.S. without actually declaring one. He has openly buddied up to North Korea, Iran, and al-Qaeda; he foments Communist revolution throughout Latin America; and he makes constant threats to attack America with the mighty Venezuelan Army. Back to AP:

Chavez says the United States [is] plotting against him, an accusation American officials deny. The United States, however, has said Chavez is stifling democracy.

His subjects must be wondering "what have we gotten ourselves into?" I suspect they live in perpetual fear that someday, somebody is actually going to take the wild, Tourettes-like outbursts of their leader seriously.

Huh. Maybe Hugo Chavez is a Democrat, after all!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 9, 2006, at the time of 4:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 12, 2006

The Spirit Was Willing...

News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

Something meaty to chew on:

Scientists: Donner Family Not Cannibals
By Scott Sonner
Associated Press
Jan 12, 2005

Cannibalism has been documented at the Sierra Nevada site where most of the Donner Party's 81 members were trapped during the brutal winter of 1846-47, but 21 people, including all the members of the George and Jacob Donner families, were stuck six miles away because a broken axle had delayed them.

No cooked human bones were found among the thousands of fragments of animal bones at that Alder Creek site, suggesting Donner family members did not resort to cannibalism, the archaeologists said at a conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Sacramento, Calif.

All I can say is -- thank God the tiki bar is open!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 12, 2006, at the time of 8:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 10, 2006

Of Human Bindage

News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

From News, via Drudge:

Some Of Nation's Best Libraries Have Books Bound In Human Skin

The practice of binding books in human skin was not uncommon in centuries past, even if it was not always discussed in polite society.

Sometimes it's best not to say anything at all.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 10, 2006, at the time of 6:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 7, 2006

The Nutcracker Sweet

News of the Weird
Hatched by Dafydd

Soap-opera city!

I've been sort of following off-and-on the story of the honeymooning couple on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship: she was found passed out "on a floor in a corridor far from the couple's cabin;" he wasn't found at all. A blood trail ran from the balcony of their cabin to the lifeboats, but she claims no memory of what happened after a vicious argument they had in the bar.

One witness claims that the argument escalated to the point where "she," Jennifer Hagel-Smith of Cromwell, CT, hauled off and kicked "him," George Allen Smith IV of Greenwich, CT, in the yodel-a-hee-hos:

[Witness Margarita] Chaves said she was in the bar with her friends when another group introduced them to Smith and his wife. She said the couple was heavily intoxicated and Hagel-Smith was leaning on a male passenger.

"We were afraid a fight was going to start," Chaves said. "She was flirting with him."

Dominick Mazza, a 24-year-old auditor from New Jersey, said Hagel-Smith was leaning on him because she was drunk, but he did not believe she was flirting.

Smith then began calling his wife names, the witnesses agreed.

"She kind of pushed him away lightly and suddenly stood up and kicked him in the private [sic] and stumbled out of the bar," Mazza said.

The next day, "he" was found missing.

I know this is just tacky tabloid talk, but I find it fascinating. I clearly remember our own honeymoon in Hawaii: we flew into Honolulu, then took an island hopper to Maui. We stayed a few days there, snorkeling and lounging on the beach (or around the pool; after six or seven Mai Tais, I don't remember).

We went to a luau. Then we flew to the Big Island, where we wandered up to take a look at Mt. Kilauea, where I interviewed one of the vulcanologists there.

We had rented a Jeep, and we drove around the island until we got to the site of a recent lava eruption; we wanted to hike out to get a real close look at the lava.

we started wandering vaguely in the direction indicated by a few other tourists. Just then, we noticed a passel of Germans beetling out in the same direction, following a guide who seemed to know what he was doing. Despite not having paid the guide a dime, Sachi and I followed after as "free riders."

Alas, the guide was tall and the German tourists were uniformly twenty-three, blond-haired, and six-foot five, or so it seemed (even the girls): we had to practically run after them. As we were sprinting over solidified lava flow laced with leftover lava tubes that collapsed the moment one stepped upon them, this was a treacherous undertaking. But we realized that if we ever let the guide get too far ahead, we would be stranded there in the middle of (ahem ) an active lava flow field, which didn't seem particularly romantic.

We busted a gut, but we kept up. It's a miracle neither of us broke an ankle. But eventually, we began to feel distinctly hot; we also started to hear a dull roar. Then finally, the guide stopped and pointed. "That's it," he said, pointing directly forward.

We stared eagerly, looking for some red running river... but the lava was actually silver, not red -- and we almost missed it. In fact, if the guide hadn't stopped, we might well have actually stepped into the molten stuff! It was virtually invisible, just another vein of rock -- until a closer look revealed that the rock was flowing.

Just to make sure, I picked up a hunk of obsidian and heaved it into the silver stream. Sure enough, where the volcanic glass penetrated was bright red, just a rouge hole in the silver lining.

The heat was terrific! We were downwind from the flow, and even standing fifteen or twenty feet away was scorching my eyebrows and burning my face. On the other side of the molten river, a different group of tourists went right up to the edge of the stream, leaning over for a real close look. If the wind had changed, I'm quite convinced some of them wouldn't have made it out alive.

We finally headed back... and I was surprised to discover, when we finally made it back to the lava information desk (yes, there was one), that Sachi and I were less tuckered out that the tall, thin German tourists. Since we were neither tall nor thin (nor German), I thought it a major accomplishment. And we got some great pictures, though the edges are a little crispy.

We moved on from there to Kauai, where we did some hiking, then took a boat ride around to the other side of the island and did some more skin diving. It was here that a sea turtle swam too close to me. I latched onto its shell and let it tow me a for a bit; but it eventually figured out why it was moving so slowly, and it dove very deep (about forty feet, which is a lot when one is simply holding one's breath). I let go and stroked to the surface.

Sachi had unwisely allowed herself to be talked into taking a noodle to float on; she had been fine until then, but bobbing up and down like a cork made her seasick.

We had a great time. The food isn't all that special in Hawaii, but we managed to find edible restaurants. On that trip, we steered clear of Honolulu, except for having to utilize the airport. The last time we were there was entirely spent in the Honolulu area... and I discovered why I'd wanted to skip that city the first time: it's just a medium sized city with nothing spectacular, nothing "Hawaiian" about it.

All in all, I'd say our honeymoon was an unqualified success. And you know what? In the entire two weeks we were there, not once did Sachi ever kick me in the yin-yangs, and neither of us turned up missing.

I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get a little suspicous in the Smith/Hagel-Smith case.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 7, 2006, at the time of 5:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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