Monday, 13 June 2011

My Neighborhood

We had one of those odd events today.  Some crazy lady....got on the DC Metro system (our subway) over in Maryland.  Apparently was on near the rear of the train....then announced that she had a bomb.  This freaked folks out....pulling on the "stop" handles and trying to get the doors to the car open.  Folks were craping in their pants over this.....all fearful that it was real.

What most folks may not realize....is that the 'hot-cable' that runs all the juice for the train.....is about a foot off the ground on one side of the train.....not up twelve feet above the track.  So these folks trying to rush off....could have fried themselves just because of one crazy lady.

Cops arrested her.  I'm guessing she's doing mental exams.  She won't be let loose for several weeks....that's my humble opinion.

How to Flip Off the British

There's this interesting tale which kinda falls into the news leftover from last week.

There's this guy....Luis Vernet, who is credit with a major discovery....the ability to preserve leather (with chemicals involved of course) and Argentina gets the credit because that's where the guy took residence.  We wouldn't have all this fancy leather today.....unless this treatment discovery had been made.

Now, you'd sit there and think that was enough history for Luis.  But no, there's another piece of world history.  He was the first, and only governor....of the Falklands, while they were an Argentine-controlled territory.  Remarkably, Luis comes up early in his life (born in Hamburg, Germany) as this adventure-prone guy who was seeking out vast fortunes.

He works out this deal with Argentina....mostly because no one there cares for isolated and desolate island region....where he is appointed governor.  He's mostly there for business interest...seal hunting.

So Luis sits there....with maybe forty-odd characters....in the middle of nowhere.  Some might have come over from Argentina, but realistically....they came from all over South America and Europe.

In 1831, Luis got himself into a bit of trouble because American vessels showed up around the region.....seal hunting, and he really didn't take this in a pleasant way.  Luis gets upset, and charges out to take the American vessels.  Reports don't indicate any bloodshed over this, but some American anger came out of the episode.

After the seizure, the American government gets upset....then sends the USS Lexington into the Falklands area.  There's not a lot written over the arrival of the Lexington, but the US navy guys, and their Marines....clean up this mess real quick.  US vessels are released, and Luis gets toted off the island.  Luis, the Argentine governor and only representative of the Argentine government...never returns.

Somewhere in the early part of 1833....the British arrive and take ownership of the island.  No one from the US cares.  No one from Argentina cares.  Luis doesn't care.  It's pretty much a done deal over who owns the island from that moment on.  So for roughly four years....Argentina had the island.  They never invested a penny into it.  No one has ever even suggested a Argentine flag flew over it.  Other than a possible governor's stamp to document official papers.....there's never likely any connection back to Argentina.

Now to fast-forward to this past week.  The US government did an odd thing. They got around to the OAS council meeting (the Latin America guys), and decided that for the first time ever....they'd kinda agree with Argentina over their ownership of the Falkland Islands.  The British, for all practical purposes, sat there in shock reading the US agreement.

Why the change in the US position?  Some folks will remember that the very first thing on the US calendar under the new President...was this meeting with Gordon Brown the Prime Minister.  It was a Blockbuster 25 DVD movie packet....all in US format, which means it won't play on a European style system.  I'm mostly of the belief that the administration has walked this direction intentionally, and they have no desire to  do anything positive for the British.  This is simple another example.

The curious thing about this Luis Vernet episode....there's not a single statue of this guy anywhere....not on the Falklands or in Argentina....even though he was the first governor of the place.

The Cost of 275 Pounds

As the Sarah Palin emails were finally released at the end of last week....you had to be standing in Juneau to get them.  For some odd reason, the Alaska folks made it mandatory that you had to fly into Alaska...buy the six boxes (275 pounds), and then do whatever you wanted.  You couldn't have these transmitted via the internet or buy them via a DVD.  That alone....should have made you suspicious.

We don't know the precise number of news media organizations that sent their folks up to Alaska....to the remote capital of Juneau, but I'd make an educated guess that at least two hundred reporters arrived with the news media's credit card.

You can imagine this planned event.  The New York Times picks out "Larry".  Larry spends almost thirteen hours flying from New York to Seattle, then onto Anchorage, and finally onto Juneau.  Larry rents a SUV of course.  Larry gets a hotel room in Juneau for four nights and is sitting there Friday morning.....having spent $22 for a full breakfast at the fancy hotel he's staying at.  He gets to the state government building to stand with the other jokers.  Then he pulls out the credit card to buy his copy of the Palin emails.

Larry spends all of Friday evening going through 400 pages of the emails.  He's busy sending them back to the New York Times via his scanner.  Because of the low quality internet at the hotel....it takes a full minute to transmit each individual page.

By Saturday morning, the Times folks are worried.  Nothing is looking juicy.  They've spent over $15k for Larry, his trip, his hotel, the SUV, and the copy of the Palin emails.  Frankly, it doesn't even meet page two quality standards for the Times.....so they have to push it back a bit.

Larry?  Well....I'm guessing by Sunday afternoon....the Times has decided that Larry should just pack up and leave.  He'll bring the six boxes (275 pounds) with him.  The Alaska Airlines agent is smiling at the counter....it'll be a $300 fee to get these boxes all the way back to New York City.  Larry could have done it for half that if he'd done Fedex....but he's young and lacking knowledge about things like that.

By Tuesday morning, Larry will be sitting back at the New York Times.  He'll ask what they should do with the 275 pounds of Palin emails.  A junior-junior reporter will be given these and told to review what's left that Larry hasn't read.  To be honest, the Times really can't afford to play this Palin email much again.

The folks in Alaska?  I think they are mostly smiling.  They made a couple of million bucks off the reporters who toured Alaska for a brief weekend.  They ripped off their media outlets and rented out every single SUV that they probably had to rent.  Alaska Airlines is happy because they got a bunch of folks to travel all the way to Juneau....which is normally not a hotspot for anyone.

The curious thing.  A bunch of reporters made a trip to Alaska that they'd normally never travel to in their entire life.  And they just might have an itch to return....just to flavor life in abundance....which they enjoyed for a brief 72 hours.