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Headlines You May Have Missed Because of All the Shouting

29 Mar

by Roger White

 

I realize you may find it hard to believe that any news anywhere in the world could possibly be weirder than our own little insane asylum of a presidential race, but yes, Virginia, there have been some strange goings-on other than the viral sharing of photos of candidates’ nude spouses, the specter of campaign rally attendees using protesters’ noggins as piñatas, and the petitions for open carry of firearms at the Republican National Convention for “safety reasons.” Shudder.

 

Granted, not much can stack up to the idiotic vitriol produced by this election season in good ol’ Amurka. However, yours truly has dredged up a few nuggets of weird that have nothing at all to do with the four-headed monster known as HillTrumparyBernCruzie.

 

Here’s one, for example. Recently, British scientists at the National Environment Research Council (NERC) were so jazzed about this brand, spanking new $290 million polar research ship they’re constructing, they decided to let the public in Boatyon the naming of this terribly important vessel. She’ll be launched as a Royal Research Ship, so the officials at NERC expected glorious nominations such as the “RRS Sir Shackleton” or the “RRS Winston Churchill” or the like. Nope. At last count, more than 27,000 people had voted to name the ship the “RRS Boaty McBoatface.”

 

Expected to set sail in 2019, the 420-foot vessel will “provide the U.K. with the most advanced floating research fleet in the world,” a NERC spokesperson said. He added that although the name “RRS Boaty McBoatface” had about 10 times the amount of votes than any other name, the council is under no legal obligation to give their flagship research vessel a “bloody cartoon moniker.” When contacted by NBC News, a staffer at the research council said no public affairs officials were available to speak because they were all in a “crisis meeting.”

 

There’s more to the story, however. In the wake of such overwhelming voter sentiment, British politicos have proposed renaming historic Big Ben in the Palace of Westminster “Tick Tockety McClockenspiel” and renaming the ancient Stonehenge site “Chunky McBoulder Butt.”

 

Here’s another one: A former security worker at the Brink’s armored car company has been charged with stealing almost $200,000 worth of quarters, justice officials said recently. One Stephen Dennis of Harpersville, Alabama, is accused of taking the coins while working as a money processing manager.

 

“What Mr. Dennis may have thought was a nickel-and-dime theft was, in the end, the equivalent of a major bank heist,” FBI Special Agent Roger C. Stanton said in quartersa news release. An FBI investigation found that Dennis had been replacing coins with beads after an April 2014 audit found several coin bags were considerably short of their expected tally. In total, Dennis stole $196,000 worth of quarters from the Brink’s facility in Birmingham. Investigators concluded that the guy took approximately 784,000 coins.

 

That’s roughly 9,800 pounds of quarters, folks. Ah, but there’s more to the story. My sources tell me that they caught Dennis when he showed up in tremendously baggy trousers at a local emergency room to be treated for a quadruple hernia. The maximum penalty for the poor guy is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Word is the fine will have to be paid in pennies and nickels.

 

Wait, I got one more. In Florida recently, two trucks, one hauling beer and the other toting potato and tortilla chips, collided on Interstate 95, littering the road with, yeah, chips and beer. The crash between the semi-tractor trailer transporting Busch beer and the box truck filled with Frito-Lay products occurred in Brevard County just after 3:10 a.m., the Florida Highway Patrol said.

 

suds“Neither driver was hurt, but you had Doritos and Busch beer all over I-95,” said Sergeant Kim Montes, spokeswoman for the Florida Highway Patrol. “That’s like a Super Bowl commercial right there.”

 

What she didn’t tell you was that it took two and a half weeks and 200 fat men in t-shirts and shorts to get rid of all that suds and spuds. Now, apparently, all that’s left are six dozen couches and several big-screen TVs sitting in the middle of I-95.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a mildly obese dachshund, and a middle-aged cat with Esptein Barr Syndrome. For more of “This Old Spouse,” visit www.oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

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It Could Have Easily Been ‘The Old, Rugged Noose’

14 Dec

by Roger White

 

Leave it to the creative mind of Gene Roddenberry to send me into yet another mental wormhole. And I warn you from the outset, this particular “thought experiment” may be potentially upsetting to the less open-minded, strenuously dogmatic, sense-of-humor-challenged, and/or excessively pious of you. You’ve been warned.

Curled up on the comfy couch watching an episode of Roddenberry’s original “Star Trek” series recently, I was thrown quite unceremoniously into a fit of conceptual conniptions by a particular scene from the 1968 episode entitled “Bread and Circuses.” My TV-watching fare of Shiner, Fritos, and . . . er, certain aromatic herbal nourishment may have contributed significantly to the wormhole process, but I digress.

This Trek episode, in which Captain Kirk and crew are forced to fight in gladiatorial games on a planet where a modern-day Roman Empire rules the land, juxtaposes the culture, garb, and traditions of ancient Rome with Caesar Packing Heatcontemporary technology. Hence, you have emperors, senators, and proconsul types handing down edicts over loudspeakers and gladiator contests broadcast over network television.

However, the scene that shoved me down my own little space-time porthole of pontification was the one in which Kirk and company are captured by Roman guards wielding submachine guns. Woah. (And this episode came out in ’68, mind you—two years before Andrew Lloyd Webber armed his Romans with automatic weapons in Jesus Christ Superstar.)

Anyway. That’s when it hit me: What if the Romans—our ancient Romans—had possessed such technology? Of course, the mind reels with infinite possibilities (like what if Spartacus had had access to F-14 Tomcat air cover). But what I became fixated on was the impact on Christianity—not the religion as a whole, mind you, but merely the symbolism involved.

You see, the universally recognized metaphor for the Christian faith is, of course, the cross. Why? Because that’s how Jesus was put to death; the sign of the cross symbolizes His victory over death. But what if crucifixion hadn’t been the means of execution for the Roman Empire? What if, for example, electrocution had da chairbeen the execution method du jour? Think about it. Gold necklaces worn by faithful folks around the globe would have little electric chairs dangling at the end.

Or what if execution of criminals had been accomplished by hanging, for instance? Nuns far and wide, instead of making the symbol of the cross when they prayed, would arch their necks at severe angles and pull on imaginary nooses to display their piety.

Or consider lethal injection. Churches from Brownsville to Bozeman, instead of featuring outsized crosses on their steeples, would display great hypodermic needles to call the faithful to worship.

OK, wait! Hold it. Wait a minute. Put the pitchforks down. Douse the torches. I’m not demeaning Christianity by any means. I’m not poking fun. I was raised Southern Baptist, for crying out loud, by a God-fearing momma in the heart of the Lone Star State, here in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. All I’m doing is saying “what if.” In an alternate universe somewhere just east of Andromeda, who’s to say one of these scenarios isn’t playing out this very microsecond?

Who’s to say that on an alternate Earth right this minute Alternate-Earth Christians aren’t gathered in their houses of worship singing their praises thusly: the noose“At the chair, at the chair, where I first saw the light…” Or maybe country-and-western singers on Ganymede are paying homage this very moment to “The Old, Rugged Noose.”

And consider traditional sayings and adages. “It’s not my cross to bear” on Europa might be more along the lines of “It’s not my chair to sit in”— or “It’s not my chamber to enter.” Whatev.

No! No, please, put the garden tools down! I’m just saying “what if,” that’s all! It’s just a thought bubble!

I gotta quit doing Shiner and Fritos with “Star Trek” so late at night.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious offspring, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.