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.

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Whale Wars Season 2 Espisode 5: The Unintimidatables

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

I have been waiting for this episode with baited breath. Finally, the Japanese are going to retaliate.  Let the LRAD begin.  Mr. Sulu set LRAD for ‘decimate!’

The show began with a ‘white powder’ being opened in an envelope while at the dock.  The ship was quarantined while anthrax tests were done.

I don’t buy this for a minute after the ‘Shooting’ at the end of last season, I don’t believe this at all.  I smell a rat.

Let me supply another possibility.  All of this generates a lot of media coverage which gets the Sea Shepherds in the news, they look like victims, and their donations go up.  And, all it costs is an envelope, a stamp and some Tide.  I’ll put my money on this.

After determining that it was not anthrax, they loaded back up, and set sail again.  They had just reached dangerous waters again, when the bucket of bolts known as the Steve Irwin lost all power, including engines, and was dead in the water.  Where is a storm when we need one?  It’s just amazing how much time and money these guys waste because all of their equipment breaks down.  I wonder how many poor whales were slaughtered while the ship was not running.  At least, the Japanese won’t starve.

I was thrilled to see that the Dutch, who for some reason allow the Sea Shepherds to fly under their flag, had ordered the Sea Shepherds to cease throwing objects from their ships at the Japanese.

The Sea Shepherds’ interpretation of this order is that they will have to throw their chemical bombs from the smaller boats instead of the Steve Irwin.  This is great because the Sea Shepherds have proven that they can barely get these boats launched at all much less attack the Japanese from them.

The first mate announced that the Japanese have LRAD.  It is clear that at least some of them see the inherent danger in being in a small boat or helicopter if LRAD is used on them.  One of the crew made the wisest statement that has ever been made on the show when he said, “Usually plans are made around worse-case scenarios.  However, we seem to be foolishly making plans around best case scenarios.”  That guy should be captain.

After being tipped off, the Sea Shepherds find the Japanese.  However, when they find the processing ship, there is also a harpoon ship.  Then, another harpoon ship comes up behind them.  The narrator refers to the fact that the Sea Shepherds are ‘very outnumbered.”  The truth is that it is the Sea Shepherds who are attacking the Japanese.  Then, to add suspense, some whales showed up also.  Drama, drama, drama.

Now, engorged with the fuel that drives all reason from their bodies, ‘passion’, the Sea Shepherds commit themselves to the attack.

Since this episode ended so anticlimactically, so will this post….

Beaten Down by All the Hype

The events of the last week have left my head spinning.  It’s almost like God has decided to cast his own version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.  First you had a washed up ‘B’ movie actor in David Carradine, then you had a washed up variety show sidekick in Ed McMahon, then the washed up model/actress who had not worked in twenty years unless it was on Lifetime in Farrah Fawcett, then we had the freak show that was the washed up life of Michael Jackson (see MC Hammer), and finally we have the guy who was made famous by being in commercials, Billy Mays.  Paulie Shore had better hide.

The confusing thing in all of this for me has been the extreme revisionism that has come with all of these deaths.  Suddenly, people who were fringe at best a few months ago are being hailed for their greatness.  What’s up with that?  Can’t we appropriately honor the accomplishments of these people without all of the hyperbole?

I am always brought back to the year Princess Diana died when these things come up.  Do you remember who died the same week that Diana did?  Most people do not because the press was too caught up in the hype of Diana to properly give Mother Teresa and her lifetime of service to humanity her due.  I guess the explosion of media since then has given us the ability to overhype any number of things at the same time.

It’s the hyper-revisionism that bothers me the most.  Suddenly, Michael Jackson has been elevated to a level just below that of Martin Luther King Jr.  How did this happen?  Here we have a guy that had obvious mental and emotional issues that drove him to try to appear more, for lack of a better term, ‘white’.  He married a white woman, and I don’t ever remember him taking a strong stand on racial issues unless you count his song “Black or White.”  I seem to remember allegations of molestation, but somehow a 22 million dollar broom swept them all away (and, of course he was found ‘not guilty’).  Now, there seems to be confirmation that he was gay, and did like young men.  Has that become a popular stance in the black community?  And, all of the children of his ‘baby mammas’ have turned out not to be his.  Is this the example that so many young men are following today?

Suddenly, however, everyone is rushing to praise his greatness, not just as a singer and dancer, which he was, but all other aspects of his life, and many more that have seemed to materialize after his death.  Here’s a newsflash, you can be a great singer and a great dancer, and still be a freak in the rest of your life.  It’s OK to admit it in Jackson’s case, because it’s the truth.

Unfortunately, it looks like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are going to have to have a monkey knife fight to decide who will preside over the funeral.  The self-promotion of these two guys in this case is almost as nauseating as the self-promoting of Joe Jackson (anybody need a blue-ray?).

The truth is, Michael Jackson was a great performer in the 1980s, and sadly like many people, had a hard time dealing with his fame in the years since then.  The same group of leeches that followed him during his lifetime have turned into a flock of carrion birds whose ranks have been swelled by the likes of Jackson and Sharpton.

Sadly, the exploitation of Jackson and his children is just beginning.  They say he will not be buried at Neverland.  I’ll bet the opposite.  There is money to be made if they can put the body there, so it will probably happen.  Next, you will have the Michael Jackson memorial tour in which lots of washed up singers trying to jump-start their careers will get together and sing their versions of his songs.  And, of course the tribute anthology will be released on which every artist from Whitney Houston to Jamie Foxx will sing Michael Jackson songs.  Then, in a few years when the money has stopped rolling in, and the nostalgic fervor has worn off a little, his family will sell the movie rights to his life, and back up the Brinks truck once again.

Whale Wars Season 2 Episode 4: Yum Yum, Eat Crow

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

This episode picked up with the Sea Shepherds closing on the Japanese fleet while it was looking for a man overboard.  It was nice to see some empathy from the crew toward the Japanese sailor who was washed overboard.  It was also good to see that they have some sort of moral compass that would not initially allow them to attack the Japanese fleet while they were looking for their lost sailor.

After a lot of soul searching, it seemed that most of the crew had come to some rationalization that would still allow them to attack the Japanese.  To Paul Watson’s credit, he instead offered to assist the Japanese in finding their crew member.  To the credit of the Japanese, they declined the help “because the Sea Shepherds are environmental terrorists.”  Good for them.

The ass of a first mate Peter Brown actually said, “…I think they are the eco-terrorists.  One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”  He should tell that to the people around the world whose family members have been killed by Al Qaeda.

Then, just as the Sea Shepherds are finally about to attack the Japanese, they realize they are running low on fuel.  Captain Paul Watson informed us that just by showing up that they had intimidated the Japanese.  Really?  I don’t think that the Japanese are that affected.  They will just go right on whaling while the Sea Shepherds go back to port, and the Japanese will be miles away from their current positions when the Sea Shepherds finally return.

They realized that one of the harpoon ships was shadowing them…, “and its gun is uncovered!”  So they decide to attack the ship.  The best news to come out of this episode is that it appears that the Japanese have decided to defend themselves.  They had nets to deflect the bottles of acid and slippery chemicals.  They had floats tied to the sides of the ship to prevent boarding, and the whole crew was deployed on deck to help defend the ship.  Very good.

By the time that the Sea Shepherds actually got their boats in the water, the Japanese ship was out of range of the attack.  They finally gave up the chase and turned back in the rough seas.

That’s when one of the ladies on the crew of the small boat bashed her head as they hit a rough wave.  She received a mild concussion, but the producers played it up quite a bit.

Much of the rest of the episode was spent with the crew worrying about the fuel supply and Peter Brown making a complete ass of himself.  It is clear that this guy is no team player, and should have never been made first mate.  He proved that you can be right, and still be an ass.

One of the crew members topped Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs when he said, “If we run out of fuel…we’ll look like we have no idea what we are doing.”  I’ve thought that they had no idea what they were doing from the first episode last season.

Then, of course, one of the crew bashed her head again (a pretty ugly cut).  She was repaired by the doctor, and the fuel/Peter Brown saga continued.  His sarcasm directed toward the crew is useless.  In the end, he ‘decided’ not to return for the second part of the trip.  Oddly, no one seems torn up about it.  I suspect that Paul Watson asked him not to, but that was never admitted.  I felt that there were things that went on behind the scenes last season, and this would be another example of this.  In the end, I was left with the feeling that much of the fuel issue was just made up drama.

I can’t wait for the L-RAD on the next episode.  The foreshadowing of the ‘white powder’ incident on the next episode reminded me of the time when Paul Watson was ‘shot’ last season, but I’ll deal with that next week.

Whale Wars Season 2 Episode 3: As Bad As Our Bark

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

This episode began with the ship’s hull still being pounded by ice.  As I watched these guys in a truly dire situation, I was brought back to something a friend and I have talked about a few times.  These people, like the Seas Shepherds, Christopher McCandless and Timothy Treadwell often labor under the misconception that “Nature” or individual creatures actually care about them or their efforts.  The truth of course is that nature is simply ambivalent and dangerous.  Those who disrespect this fact either die or get lucky.

After surviving their brush with the icepack, the First Mate gave us a little more gold with this statement, “You know I’m not really a book learned sailor, and so I haven’t gone to school to study ice charts.  So, there’s probably some sort of science to it, but I don’t know what it is.”  These sorts of statements just baffle me.  And, someday there will actually be people who are surprised when these guys do not come back.  Amazing.

This guy, the First Mate, make a big point of explaining to the camera why he did not trust computers or satellite maps or pictures.  He liked to rely on his own eyes.  Of course, the ship missed the passageway out of the ice because of his stupidity.

The one consolation was that it cost the Sea Shepherds days to get around the ice.  Therefore, the Japanese had days of not having to put up with their nonsense. 

Molly Kendall then delivered more misguided wisdom.  She said, “Whales are such a huge example of an amazing creature.  To start that process to save the world, we need to look beyond ourselves, and yeah, if we can’t do that with whales, we can’t do that with oceans.  And, if we can’t do that with the oceans, we can’t do that with ourselves.”  It is reasoning like this that drives philosophy professors to suicide.

They proved that they can learn from their near death experiences, however.  This time, when they found one of the Japanese ships in the fog, they decided to use the little boat that had the radar system to attack with.  Unfortunately for the Sea Shepherds, the junkyard of a ship that they travel around in, once again, proved itself when they discovered that the radar on the small boat was not working.

They caught up with the Japanese scout ship, and began throw stinky acid-filled bottles on the ship.  Once again, Paul Watson was not able to control his ship and the stern of his boat hit the stern of the Japanese boat (so dangerous).  Luckily, most of the damage was to the Steve Irwin.

Paul Watson, after just hitting the Japanese ship actually, said, “If they believe that we are terrorists, if they believe that we are these evil pirates, if they believe that we are capable of sinking them at sea, that works on our favor.”  Sounds like a good case for self defense if the Japanese ever decide to actually defend themselves.

He put them right back on another collision course.  He acted like he was going to T-bone their ship, and there were big laughs when he was able to miss them (just).  I am now for the Japanese using whatever means they choose in order to defend themselves.

One of the young ladies had a good idea, and developed a small-boat checklist so that they would not have many of the problems that they have faced so far.  The same First Mate that did not like to use the ship’s instruments was against this idea also.  His reasoning, “if you don’t know how to do it, you should not be doing it.”  While that may be true, none of these people know what they are doing, so they should just stop altogether.  She was just trying to streamline a process, and make things safer for the admittedly inexperienced crew, and he was just being an ass.

Just as they got to the whaling grounds, the started to run out of fuel and water.  I begin to wonder what the point of all of this is.

They found out that one of the Japanese Sailors had fallen overboard.  Their reaction was to offer to help so that they could find out where the fleet was in order to confront them.  Ghouls.  Paul Watson then justified his actions by saying that the Japanese attempt to find the sailor’s body was just a show, since there was no way that they could really find the man’s body (the Japanese had there searchlight on and were obviously looking for the man).  Even some of the crew were uncomfortable with assaulting the Japanese during their search.  Paul Watson’s quote was, “I really don’t care what people think, my clients are the whales.”  Bastard.

I want give Animal Planet a little credit for the way they are presenting this series.  I do believe they are sympathetic to the Sea Shepherds, but they also show all of their many flaws.  It may just be good television, but they don’t have to show any of the flaws at all.  This show could easily be a Sea Shepherds love fest, and it is not that.  Of course, if it was, I could not watch it.

Barbara Boxer is a Pretentious Ass

I read today that Senator Barbara Boxer “dressed down” a brigadier general of the US Armed Forced for calling her “ma’am.”  What a royal bitch she must be.

Brigadier General Michael Walsh respectfully referred to her as “ma’am” while testifying to Congress.  Here is her response:

“You know, do me a favor,” a clearly agitated Boxer said. “Could you say ‘senator’ instead of ‘ma’am?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Walsh replied.

“It’s just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I’d appreciate it, yes, thank you,” she said.

“Yes, senator,” he answered.

Beyond the fact that in the military “ma’am” and “sir” are respectful responses that soldiers are taught to give in the military, I was taught as a child to use these forms of respect also.  In fact, I had a cousin who once lamented to me that she was jealous because my parents had taught me to “say things like, ‘Yes Ma’am’ and ‘Yes Sir,’ and she had never benefitted from this type of upbringing.

Words mean things and Webster points out that “ma’am” is a shortening of “madam” which it defines as “used without a name as a form of respectful address to a woman.”  Even Webster says it is respectful.  What is not respectful is talking in this manner to a general in the US military.

But, let’s be honest.  That wasn’t her point.  She simply wanted to set herself up as an adversary to the military while at the same time pointing out to everyone that, “I’m a Senator!  Look at me!”  And that makes her an ass.  And, the fact that she does not have the guts to apologize now that she is being chastised makes her even more of an ass.

This is much more offensive to me than what Letterman did because he was at least trying to make a joke, even if it was misguided.  There’s just nothing funny about what Boxer did.

Whale Wars Season 2 Episode 2: The Flexibility of Steel

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

Last week, a guy with a computer and high speed internet accused me of being a “consumer vampire” on my Whale Wars post.  That was the same week the ‘green’ guy at work showed up with a new Jeep “because it was cheaper than a Prius.”  Oh, the hypocrisy.

This week started with the ship negotiating through three or four pieces of ice.  How anticlimactic. 

They quickly found a harpoon ship.  They then plotted an intercept course which put them on a collision course with the Japanese ship.  I found it very interesting that the narrator of the show credited Captain Paul Watson’s years of experience with being the reason a collision was avoided.  Years of experience?  There was a whole ocean out there that he could have used to avoid putting his ship on a collision course with the Japanese ship.  It was Watson who plotted the ‘collision course’ in the first place.  It was his responsibility therefore to make sure it did not happen.

Then they launched a chase boat that, of course, it immediately went straight off in the wrong direction in rough seas and fog.  And, of course they once again were out of communication.  I swear it is just a matter of time until some of these people die.  They are like a bunch of irresponsible children.

The finally found the chase boat again, and it was probably another overblown event for television, but I really feel it was probably more dangerous than that.  They did give a lame excuse for not answering calls from the ship when they got back.

Then they went to sleep and woke up surrounded by ice.  Attempting to get out of it, they showed the real stress on the boat as ice was ramming into the hull.  I was amazed at the idiot who informed the two people who were assigned to stay below decks that if there was a leak they were to stay there until it was stopped.  F that.  I would have quickly informed him of his option to stay there if ‘the hull were breached.’  Amazing.

My favorite quote of the night was from the guy who said, “This would not be a good place to sink.”  Really?  The Antarctic is not a good place to sink?

I find myself reacting to these people like I do when I see someone driving very recklessly down a crowded highway.  I just hope they do not cause harm to someone else when they finally plow into something.