Whale Wars Season 2 Episode 7: The Desire to Fling Things

Though there is good commentary in all my Whale Wars posts,  you can find my newest post on the subject here.

Sorry I am a little late this week.  I had to attend a family reunion with my in-laws out of state.

This episode picked up with the Steve Irwin tracking behind the Japanese factory ship.  Their small boat is still lost in the fog…again.  The concern of the captain for the members of his crew that could have been lost at sea led him to do absolutely nothing.  The Sea Shepherds blamed the Japanese for blocking their transmissions, but I say it’s an even bet that their equipment was broken (again), or, in their continued incompetence, they simply did not know how to use it.  This, of course was confirmed when the sat-phone would not work.  Oddly, the communications officer was able to come up with a work-around that allowed them to communicate and find out where they were.  Captain Paul Watson showed his true concern when he said, “They should never have gotten that far away.”

The small boat finally got free of the ice, and made its way back to the Steve Irwin.  We got to hear a recap of last week’s events as soon as they got back onboard.

The Sea Shepherds claim that as long as they hound the factory ship, the Japanese cannot kill whales.  While this makes some sense, I have heard them make bold claims of their effectiveness before, see the ‘pro-fouler’ from last week’s episode.

They follow the factory ship into an ice field, and once again, we are subjected to they fragile Steve Irwin making its way precariously through it.  The first mate emphasized the importance of following the factory ship when he wisely said, “…whether it meant a breach in the hull, we were going to be stuck to them like glue.”  Obviously, he is the only person who missed the movie Titanic a few years ago.  At some point they figured out that if they followed in the wake of the other ship, they would not have problems with the ice.  geniuses.

Later, the Japanese surround the Sea Shepherds with three other ships.  The members of the Sea Shepherds seemed to recoil at the aggressiveness of the Japanese, and the potential for collision.  How quickly the Sea Shepherds forgot that they were the ones who actually hit one of the Japanese ships while attempting to intimidate them.

They then decided to violate the orders of the Dutch government, and ‘defend’ themselves by throwing things at the Japanese ships.  I hope they lose their flag over this, and are branded true pirates.  I keep finding myself saying this.  The Sea Shepherds are the aggressors here.  All they have to do to stop the Japanese from attacking them is to stop attacking the Japanese in the first place.

The first mate, whose idiot-factor is quickly rising decides that making a grappling hook to tear away the Japanese nets would be a good idea.  I see a little boat being dragged behind the Japanese ship while it is tethered to the net of the harpoon ship by a rope and grappling hook.  Oh, please make it so.

Rightly, the small boat crew was having none of this nonsense.  One of them actually said, “There is just so much potential for tragedy.”  The boson is simply a moron.  He said that he was disappointed that they thought it was dangerous, and this great quote, “Any new tactic is worth trying out.”  Really?  Any tactic?

This most anticlimactic of episodes ended in this manner.  What a waste of time.  Get to the point Animal Planet!  At least the previews from next week’s episode look good.

Whales Wars Season 2 Episode 6: With A Hook

Though there is good commentary in all my Whale Wars posts,  you can find my newest post on the subject here.

After Last week’s anticlimactic ending, I’m ready to see the Japanese defend themselves.  This episode began with the volatile situation we were left with last week: the Steve Irwin, two Japanese ships in front, and one behind with whales nearby in the water.

The ships box the Steve Irwin in, and the Sea Shepherds get ready to launch their small boats.  They plan to throw their stinky acid bombs and try to foul the propellers of the Japanese processing ship.  In a move that they obviously think is clever, they plan to use the code phrase, “Tora, tora, tora” (Which actually translates ‘tiger, tiger, tiger’) when they launch the attack.  The narrator refers to this as Japanese slang for ‘attack.’  This just is not true.  The phrase was the code that launched the attack on Pearl Harbor.  That is the common connotation, and the narrator’s comment came off as an attempt to spin the phrase less offensively.  The truth is, they used it in pretty bad taste.

Unfortunately, the Japanese have proven to be fairly adaptive as they have deployed netting that will cause the bottles of acid to bounce off.  The Sea Shepherds’ helicopter also sees water canons and LRAD.

Never ones not beat their heads against a wall, and put themselves at unnecessary risk, the Sea Shepherds attack as planned.

The Japanese do not deploy the LRAD for some reason.  Paul Watson gives the ‘code phrase’ to drop the prop fouler.  Not surprisingly the keystone cop members of the crew do not know what they are supposed to do, and start to throw the acid bombs at one of the harpoon ships.

The harpoon ship defends itself with water canons, but does not deploy the LRAD.  Paul Watson was very put-out that they did not deploy the prop fouler, but instead hurled the acid.  Instead of explaining what he wanted like a good leader would, he just berated the crew of the small boat, and told them repeatedly to “do what they were supposed to do.”  Of course, being confused, they still thought that they were supposed to hurl the acid.  Would it have been better just to say, “Foul the prop!” if they wanted the prop fouled?

They succeeded in deploying the prop fouler parallel to the ship’s course.  If you watch any cop show it will teach you that in order to stop the bad guys, you have to throw out the tack-strip perpendicular to the course of the car.  That way, the car’s natural momentum will carry it right over the tacks.  The same principle applies here.  In the end, all the Sea Shepherds have done is to waste more gas, and lose their prop fouler.  Genius.

They eventually found their prop fouler, but it had succeeded in fouling an iceberg.  One of the crew decided to jump onto this very small iceberg.  There is no way I would ever do that.  You could really die.  Eventually they got their rope back, and they were left with only a zodiac to attack with.

The zodiac attacked the factory ship, but the ship’s water canons kept them at bay.  They tired to throw them over the bow, but it was too tall.  The other small boat tried to attack the back of the ship, but the strongest water canon was there.  One of the team members had his eyelid cut by the water, and they had to give up.  The Japanese had effectively defended themselves, and it was a happy ending…for now.

Shortly after getting the injured crewman back onto the Steve Irwin, the crew of the small boat attacked one of the harpoon ships again.  Sadly, they were able to deploy the prop fouler perfectly this time, and it did not come back up.  Luckily, the prop fouler that could “stop military vessels” worked about as well as everything else the Sea Shepherds do, and they simply sailed on.

The “unbreakable” prop fouler was chopped right in half.  So, what to do.  The obvious answer would be to waste more time and gas trying to do the same thing with the prop fouler that had already failed.  The great thing was that when they missed the boat this time, the Japanese simply stopped and fished the prop fouler out of the water.  They decided to try one more attack with the acid, and the Japanese began to throw metal nuts about as big around as a golf ball.  The hypocritical Sea Shepherds seems appalled that the Japanese might actually try to hurt them while defending themselves.  Let’s not forget, the Sea Shepherds are the aggressors here.  There would be no conflict if they were not attacking the Japanese vessels in the first place.

As they went to break, I braced myself for the Sea Shepherds to spend the rest of the episode trying to make themselves look like victims.  I was not disappointed.  If someone attempts to break into my house, I’m not going to asking them if they have a violent intent, I’m just going to shoot them.  The Sea Shepherds should expect nothing less from the Japanese.

The episode ended with a storm coming in and the small boats being ordered back to the Steve Irwin.  Instead of coming straight back, they decided to wave at the Japanese one more time.  This foreshadowed them getting lost again next week.  What a waste.

Speaking of waste, I have a friend who did the math that I have to give props to.  By their own reckoning, he estimated that they used 300 tons of fuel while failing to save one whale from being killed before they had to return to port for another load of fuel.  So far, they still have had no impact on the Japanese operation.  He questioned how they could justify the environmental impact of their operation with little or no positive result.  Good questions.

Hopping on the Bandwagon

The day after the election, I went to a local fabric store with my wife.  While she was browsing, and I was futilely looking for something to catch my interest, I looked up and saw four full bolts of Barrack Obama fleece that I assume people were supposed to make blankets with.  I was confused and appalled.  Since that time, I have felt like I was being bombarded with Obama products.  The latest Obamination being the Obama Chia Pet.

So, in a effort to add my own instrument to the cacophony, I decided the time had come to bring together America’s new savior and the Savior of men.  Enjoy.

imga0262

Let the Newspaper Industry Die

I have been mostly staying away from politics since Obama has taken office.  All of his real policy changes so far have been on the social side (i.e. stem cell funding), and therefore, as a conservative, I oppose them.  On the other side (the Republican side), I am even more disappointed.  My party has apparently stolen the Democrats’ playbook.  All I see is the twisting of facts to promote fear of Obama’s policies.  Never mind the fact that we can simply oppose his policies because we disagree with them.  My party is spending its time spinning everything in the direction of fear.  I, therefore, have found myself farther removed from politics than at any point in my life.  Oh yeah, and Newt Gingrich is thinking of running in 2012.  great.  Looks like we learned a lot from that McCAin nomination.

Now that my first rant is over, I will get to the reason for my re-injecting myself into the political process.  It seems that Democrat Senator Benjamin Cardin is proposing measures to save the newspaper industry.  This is the dumbest idea to come out of Washington in years.

He proposes that newspapers be allowed to become non-profit organizations.  They will not be allowed to ‘endorse’ a candidate if they do, but they will still be able to report on elections and editorialize them.

This makes no sense whatsoever.  Reporting is never, ever unbiased.  I would rather have my news provided by an organization that announces its bias up front.  That way I can filter the information that they give me in light of these biases.

Cardin said: “We are losing our newspaper industry.  The economy has caused an immediate problem, but the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken, and that is a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy.”

The fact is, saving the newspaper industry would be like attempting to save the steam driven engine industry.  There is no need for it.  There is something better and much more effective available to replace the newspaper industry, the Internet.  There is no information available in a newspaper that is not already available on the Internet for free.  And, even though there may be some crazy views expressed on the Internet, it is still a place where all views are available on any topic.

The great thing is that the reader on the Internet is allowed to form his own opinion on any topic by looking at many divergent opinions, not just the myopic opinions delivered by the editorial page of a newspaper.

The Federal government does not need to get into the business of supporting newspapers for several reasons.  First, they are dying a natural death because the public is no longer interested in their product.  No amount of government support is going to make people want to read newspapers more.  Second, I have serious reservations about the government injecting itself in any way in the reporting process.  This is simply dangerous, and politicians cannot be trusted not to try any control information once they start subsidizing the industry.  And three, the press does not need to feel like it owes any politician for its livelihood.  Any situation like this could not be healthy.

In the end, with the abundance of network and cable news programs, along with radio and the Internet, newspapers are simply no longer necessary.  A few will survive because they will find a niche,  The rest need to be allowed to die a natural death.

Group Day, American Idol Season 8 (2009)

Find my latest American Idol Article here.

Group day is like the drunk uncle that shows up once a year to ruin everyone’s Thanksgiving.  I started to cut the producers of the show a little slack, and defend the need for them to be sure the contestants can function in a group dynamic, but that has little to do with it.  Their purpose in this show is to engineer a train wreck because they know that no one can take their eyes off a train wreck.  It has nothing to do with making the final product better or helping the contestants.

This year, they got exactly what they wish for.  By putting less talented people with obvious social deficiencies through in the early round, they created the perfect storm of conflicts between a group of self-centered young people who want nothing more than to have someone else to blame for their personality failures or lack of talent.  In fact, I would say that this was the biggest ill conceived coming together since Michael Vick tried to play match-maker with a bunch of pit bulls.

I have made a few predictions up to this point, and I may have to do some early backtracking on my David Osmond prediction.  However, if I am going to take the hit for that, I am going to take credit for predicting that social misfits like Tatiana, rat haired Rose, Tatooed Emily, and Bikini Girl would have problems functioning in a group dynamic.

To prove that the train wreck was the point of the show, Idol spent about seven minutes of the show actually showing people singing.  So, I will address the train wreck.

Tatiana- She is obviously a clinical psychopath.  It took her about five minutes to begin to destroy one group, and then she decided to destroy another.  I do not believe she could ever be mistaken for a team player.  She is her team, and the only reason that she was able to function in her group at all was because she loved herself too much to allow herself to fail.  At the end of the show, she showed that she may be the one person on the planet that is more egocentric than Paris Hilton, when she thanked everyone there, and announced that they were “all part of me.”  I can’t wait till that personality of hers fails to get her one vote if she makes it to the top 24.

I felt a little sympathy for Tatooed Emily as real tears flowed down her face after she forgot the words to her song.  I found her quote, “This is the only thing I know how to do” to be a little odd.  Having your two days on Idol as your only aspiration and the only thing you can put on a resume is probably not a good thing.  I recommend the GED, hard work, and perhaps college as a way of learning how to do something that is both profittable to yourself and society.  But alas, this would be infinitely more dificult than singing a few times, being famous, and being given lots of money.

Rose climbed to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs when she looked in the mirror with complete self-actualization and announced, “I look like a big pile of crap.”  In that moment, she indeed saw herself as she actually was, and she left her room without changing a thing.  Her loner attitude was a red-flag for the group competition, but she got lucky when Bikini Girl join the group, and became the focus of everyone else’s angst.

Speaking of Bikini Girl (also a psychopath), it’s a toss up between her and Tatiana when it comes to egocentrism.  She showed her ass to America when she would not even congratulate Jasmine, the only nice person, and the only good singer in the group.  At least we do not have to look at her crossed eyes and Rose’s ratty hair any more.

Finally, the ironically named ‘Team Compromise’ showed that every now and then a group has no hope at all.  The guy was a useless crier, and the girls hardly even tried to get along.  However, in the end, the problem with the group was apparent, and it was Nancy.  Her very aggressive, passive aggressive attitudes early in their practicing were a truly destructive force.  And, in the end, she needs to look around, only one person in the group did not go through to the next round, and it was her.  She was the weak link in the group, and she only has herself to blame, but don’t count on that ever happening.

So, at this point, it’s best to put last night behind us all, and act as if it never really happened.  We’ll move on and hope that the judges can effectively separate the wheat from the chaff.

p.s. Evil Paula was funny.

Google Crawls into Bed with Al Gore (Yuck!)

Thank goodness for Google!

It seems Google has teamed up with Algore to make the world safe for everyone.  They have decided to add the ocean floor and Mars to Google Earth.  That’s cool.  I’ll probably poke around a little and try to learn something from this.

But wait!  What was Algore  doing there?  Oh yeah, he was there to show his support for their new ‘Global Warming Add-on’ feature.  It seems they will use mounds and mounds of satellite data (sometimes dating back as far as a decade) to us how we are destroying the Earth.  This is a new low in the shallow-data scientific propaganda that is the favorite weapon of the Greenies.  Maybe, they drove up and down my street last week to get updated maps of how Global Warming was effecting the ice from the storm we had last Wednesday.  I do live in Texas so the effects of Global Warming were pretty apparent the next day on that ice.

They intend to focus on ‘evidence’ that will support their view.  For instance, they will show the melt off of the biggest glacier in Glacier National Park over the last decade.  They probably will not focus on the glaciers that are growing in Norway, the Himalayas, on Mount Logan in Canada, on Mount Shasta and other places.  This would not be good for their agenda.  Just in case, however, people are not able to interpret disaster from the images, Google will provide videos ‘contributed by scientists and organizations around the world.’   By doing so, they will explain how the images support their Global Warming contentions.

I find it irresponsible and disingenuous for Google and a group of people who claim to be scientists (Al Gore and Jimmy Buffett are definitely not scientists) to put this out as if it will educate people about global warming.  There cannot be enough data at Google’s disposal, at this point, to allow anyone, even a scientist to draw a conclusion about Global Warming, Earth warming trends or the possible effects of either.

The clincher was at the end of the FoxNews article where Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “What it really is… is a platform for science and research and literally understanding the future of the world.”  Isn’t that statement a little much?  I buy that having this data as a repository for future study could be beneficial down the road, but a good scientist does not draw a conclusion, or ‘predict the future’ when only 1% of the data is available to study.  Truly, you might as well use the melt off from my lawn last week to predict the future.

Hey Michael Phelps, Let’s Party!

Everyone does it.  Well, I didn’t.

I never thought I would be able to say that I could do anything that Michael Phelps could not, but today I realize that I can do something that he can never do.  I can say that I have never done drugs.  He, obviously, cannot.

I have made some mistakes I my life.  I remember drinking a few times when I was in high school.  I remember driving recklessly on some occasions, and regrettably I remember doing both on a couple of occasions.  I remember bullying one kid a little, and I regret that also, but for the most part I was a good kid.

I had lots of friends, and tons of acquaintances.  As a result, during my junior and senior years I was invited to several parties.  At these, there would always be alcohol, and occasionally the stakes were higher.

I remember one night several of my friends did something pretty stupid.  There were five of us.  We had just purchased food at the local Taco Bell, and we were about to get into the car to leave when a car full of hot girls pulled up and started to talk to us.  No lie.  It was like a scene out of Porky’s or something.  They were leaning and yelling out of the windows of the car, “Hey, do you guys want to go to a party?”  As God is my witness, it happened just like that.  Of course, if we had taken just a moment to analyze the situation, we would have noticed that: 1) no of us were the studs of our high school (though we were not horribly disfigured), 2) these girls were really nice looking, 3) and they looked a little older than us.  No, we did not consider any of this, because we were 16 year old boys full of hormones.

So, we hopped in the car and followed them.  We drove to an apartment out by Lewisville Lake, and followed them into it.  Several things were instantly apparent.  First, this was no sorority bash.  All of the girls had boyfriends there, and the boyfriends did look older than us.  Second, we were not prepared for a party in any way.  We had no alcohol of any kind, and the partiers were not offering any.  And third, these people were doing a lot more than drinking.  There were several couples engaging in what was sure to become sex at some point, and the smell of pot was in the air.  I was confused at first, not knowing what to do, then a girl offered me a pill.  It was ecstasy.  I was not prepared, but since I had decided long before that I did not want to ever do drugs, I was able to fall back on my default answer, “No thanks.”  A friend and I sat with our backs near the door for a while watching what was going on and feeling uncomfortable.  Finally I suggested that we leave which we did.  Honestly, these kinds of stupid decisions are how people end up in 55 gallon barrels at the bottom of a lake.  We had no idea where these girls were taking us or what would happen when we got there.

On another occasion, I went to a party with some friends at a house where a member of the quasi-successful local area band ESFM (the Electric Sheep Farming Method- no lie) had the house to himself (no parents) for the weekend.  This time I was in a place where I knew all of the people, and they liked me.  I had brought some alcohol, and was drunk before long.

There were about two dozen people at the party, and after a while, I noticed that they were all taking turns stepping out into the backyard.  They were smoking pot, and after a few minutes, one of my friends asked me if I wanted some.  This was my big opportunity, and it was the situation where most kids fall.  I was with friends, and they were having a good time.  All I had to do was say, ‘yes,’ but I was faced with my own reasons that I had determined long before that day.  I knew that some things could limit you and your future possibilities in life, and pot was one of those things.  Since I did not know exactly what I wanted to be in life, I reasoned that I shouldn’t do anything that would limit my possibilities.  So, I said, “No, that’s OK.”

I was expecting a scene out of Reefer Madness or some after school special to unfold in which they all surrounded me and ritualistically ostracized me from the group while baiting me into taking the drugs at the same time.  It did not happen.  In fact, they were extremely nice about it.  Honestly, at the time I believed that they were actually going outside to smoke for my benefit.  In retrospect, it seems more likely that they did not want pot smell to permeate the house for the parents of the guy who lived there to smell when they returned.  I stayed at the party and enjoyed myself with my friend late into the evening.

These little victories were important in a teen ager’s battle not to partake in what everyone else was doing, and they made me feel good about myself, and stronger if I should have had to face the same thing again.  I thought that I was the only one, but I still have a friend that I met about a year later who also says that he never did drugs, and I’m sure that he had opportunities (being in a band well into his late twenties).

This brings me to the Michael Phelps situation.  It’s a real shame.  Here we had a young man that could have been the poster-boy for clean, positive, American achievement, and he lost it all when he put his mouth on a bong like everyone else at the party was doing.  It can’t be undone, and the pictures can’t be unseen.  In so many ways, Michael Phelps proved how different and stronger he was that the average human being.  His discipline can probably be only matched by a few people in the world.  However, he knew what the consequences of smoking pot were for him.  His handlers had warned him over and over, but he chose to do so anyway.  He chose to be just like everyone else, average.  And now, his incredible Olympic legacy will forever be tainted by a picture of him with dumb-face toking on a bong.  Sad.