Tue 15 Mar 2011
With so many crises underway around the world, writing a less-than-grim posting about current events seems almost impossible. But that won’t stop me from trying.
As was first reported here four years ago, soot on the glass door of my woodstove sometimes creates an apparition of either Jesus or Moammar Khadafy. Back in 2007, I wasn’t sure which one, but with the the flames in my woodstove now resembling the fires burning throughout Libya, the ghostly image must be Khadafy’s.
By the way, Khadafy is fairly easy to write about because, as my friend Dave LaFontaine pointed out last week, it’s virtually impossible to misspell his name: Khadafy, Qaddafi, Qazzafi, Qadhdhafi, Qaththafi, Gaddafi etc.
The variety of spellings results from Arabic having letters and sounds that aren’t found in English, from differences between various dialects of Arabic, and from differing transliterations (the way words originally written in one language are written in another).
Members of Japan’s Self Defense Force hunt for survivors of Friday’s magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami. The disaster has killed more than 14 thousand people, destroyed ships, roads, buildings, and crops, and has caused explosions and fires at four nuclear reactors. Photo by Yoichi Hayashi of Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
There is certainly nothing funny about the crisis in Japan, but some of the reporting on the disaster has sounded absurd.
Remember your high school English teacher warning you about misplaced modifiers? For example: Walking around a corner, a tall building came into view.
It’s an easy mistake to make, and India’s national daily newspaper, The Hindu, happened to make it last Saturday in reporting on the disasters in Japan: “The coastal city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture was also devastated by a tsunami wave,” The Hindu reported.
“Traveling inbound at speeds upwards of 500 kilometres per hour, the city was completely engulfed.” That sounds like one fast-moving city.
Meanwhile, some areas in the United States, particularly along the Passaic and Raritan rivers in New Jersey and along the Ohio River in Ohio and Kentucky, have also been underwater this past week.
In Covington, Kentucky, the Ohio was so high that a riverside restaurant, the Waterfront, which is on a barge, pulled away from its moorings. “One cable remained in place and kept the restaurant from colliding with the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge,” Yahoo News reported.
The mishap required “everyone on board to be rescued using ladders and ropes for a makeshift gangplank,” Yahoo noted. Another news site, however, quoted a customer who seemed to be thinking of 1969 when an abundance of pollution in Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caused it to catch fire.
Said the diner, “I was so happy when we got wedged under the bridge, certainly saving us from the toxic waste and the fire.” Say what?
Amanda Weisal and John France on the Today Show.
And now for an update on the household dangers of Facebook. A Jan. 25 posting here described how Facebook led to a wife in Cleveland accusing her husband of bigamy.
As was revealed last August, the wife, Lynn France, had suspected her husband John was having an affair with another woman, Amanda Weisal, so she logged onto Facebook and typed in Weisal’s name. Not only did she find photos of her husband with Weisal, the pictures showed the two of them getting married.
Last November, the 51-year-old Antioch man halted westbound traffic on the Oakland Bay Bridge for an hour when he stopped in the slow lane and told officers via a cell phone that he was armed with guns and explosives.
Carlos-Valentino also threatened to jump off the bridge. Eventually he surrendered to authorities. No explosives or guns were found in his car, and his 16-year-old daughter, who had also been in the car, was unharmed.
What was going on? Carlos-Valentino told officers he was upset that his wife was going to leave him. And why did he think that? She’d revealed it on Facebook.
Two weeks ago, Carlos-Valentino pleaded guilty to felony child endangerment and making a false bomb threat. He is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of this month, and prosecutors have said he faces one year in jail.
On Feb. 28, Hernando Today, an online version of The Tampa Tribune, reported that a couple living in Brooksville, Florida, got into a physical fight over Facebook.
Following the fracas, Hernando County sheriff’s deputies arrested Thomas Gannon, 35, and his girlfriend Tina Cash, 31, (pictured above) at their mobilehome. Both of them were charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.
Gannon said Cash while drinking had become upset and removed their relationship status from her Facebook page. She also “unfriended” him on Facebook.
When Gannon confronted Cash about this, she began throwing things, he said, and hit him in the face with a picture frame. She denied it and claimed he punched her. He denied that.
The incident was bad enough, but because it involved Facebook, it gave the Internet world an opening to snicker. One reader wrote, “White trash at its finest.” Another quipped, “He was framed.”
With so much misery in Japan and Libya these days, it’s easier to endure flooding in New Jersey and Ohio, a breakaway restaurant in Kentucky, accusations of bigamy in Cleveland, a distraught husband stopping traffic on the Bay Bridge, and a Facebook fight in a Florida mobilehome.
These are all serious matters, but they’re not all equally grim.