The week in review
August 21, 2008
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13
Having never been on the receiving end of a government apology, I'm not really qualified to comment on their effectiveness. But then, I'm not qualified to comment on lots of things that I go ahead and comment on anyway, so let's add to the list, shall we? Yesterday sate Senator Kalani English delivered an "our bad" on behalf of the Kingdom/republic/territory/state of Hawaii to the leprosy sufferers who were exiled to Molokai's Kalaupapa peninsula beginning in 1866. "We're sorry. We're sorry for the treatment. We're sorry for the suffering that you've been through," said English. So I guess that's actually three apologies, and he was slated to say a few more today. Quoted in The Maui News, several former victims of the forced quarantine, which was mandatory until 1969, indicated that English's words offered them a sense of vindication and a share of comfort; that's a good thing and Lord knows they deserve both. But I always wonder with these symbolic gestures. To use a coarse and silly analogy, isn't it kind of like the bully who steals your lunch money and beats you up, then a week later his mom makes him come say he's sorry, but you've still got a black eye and are still down five bucks? On the other hand, any time the government's willing to show even a shred of remorse and humility I suppose we should take it and like it.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 14
|Julia Child, preparing to send a coded message via fish guts.|
If you digest the news on a regular basis, you've probably gotten to the point, like me, where nothing surprises you. Too much weird shit happens every day for any of it to stand out in the dung heap. But for every rule there is an exception, and in this case that exception is Julia Child, international spy. With the declassification today of WWII-era government files came the revelation that Child, famed foodie and the mother of televised cooking shows, was also an agent for FDR's Office of Strategic Services (which went under the pretty-damn-cool-sounding acronym OSS). When she wasn't whipping up French cuisine, she was working to whip the Nazis. Man, they don't make 'em like they used to—something tells me in 60 years we're not going to find out that Emeril and that dude from The Naked Chef were covertly hunting Bin Laden. NOTE: I've just been informed by a co-worker that Child's involvement with OSS was already an open secret before the documents were declassified, but I didn't know dammit and that's all that counts.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15
Much as I try to wear my skeptical newsman's hat even when I'm home at night with a few beers in me, I confess one glaring weakness: I'm a sucker for fantastical monster sightings. If I see a headline suggesting some tourist in Scotland has snapped a grainy picture of Nessy, my BS detector temporarily goes on the fritz and I eagerly click, ready to believe like a 6-year-old on December 24. So even though the two Georgia hillbillies who claim to have a Bigfoot carcass stuffed in their freezer rate about a negative 47 (out of 50) on the credibility scale—even though they've teamed up with a known scam artist who's pulled sasquatch hoaxes in the past—I'm gonna cling to a shred of hope that this could actually be legit until it's unequivocally confirmed the thing is just a Halloween costume coated in possum guts. Then I'll grab another beer and wait for the next sighting… In other news: As reported by numerous sources, a Native Hawaiian sovereignty group calling itself Kingdom of Hawaii briefly occupied the Iolani Palace on Oahu today and attempted to seat their leader, who claims to be the rightful king of the islands, on the throne. The only problem was, they couldn't find the royal seat because they'd failed to case the joint beforehand. I'm going to resist the urge to make this into a trite "incompetent criminals" entry, however, because the issue is bigger than that. You've got the heated-yet-under-addressed debate over sovereignty, questions about police tactics, a palace employee who claims to have been assaulted and, in the end, another chance to tread that fine, ever-shifting line between criminal behavior and defensible political action… In other, other news: Oh man, this one's tricky. Picking on other media outlets for petty errors is the lowest form of commentary and you're just setting yourself up to look like an idiot when you make a boneheaded blunder down the road. But this is too juicy to pass up. Here's a history-redefining snippet from a Maui News editorial titled "State holiday a quiet affair": "Today is a state and county holiday commemorating Hawaii's becoming the 51st state." Somewhere a copy editor just lost her wings.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 16
Maybe you've noticed I haven't mentioned the Olympics in this space, even though the games have predictably dominated the headlines for the past couple weeks. Rest assured, that hasn't been done as some futile "Free Tibet" protest. (Look, the Dalai Llama seems like a swell guy but I'm sorry—lazy Americans who think they're participating in a "boycott" by watching re-runs of Pimp My Ride instead of the women's beach volleyball quarterfinals are delusional.) No, my silence isn't a political statement; I just haven't been that captivated by any of it. Michael Phelps winning his 287th gold medal? Yawn. LeBron James and the "Redeem Team" putting on a dunking clinic, making poor Angola look like a bunch of uncoordinated 8-year-olds? Snore. Fencing? Skeet shooting? (Seriously, skeet shooting?) Ah, but here's something kind of cool: After languishing on the bench for 90 minutes, Hawaii's own Natasha Kai finally got on the field and promptly kicked (or rather, headed) the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Canada that advanced the USA women's soccer team to the semifinal round. Local girl makes good, and with a put-me-in-coach, Rocky-esque flair to boot. (Hey, soccer pun.) Now if only I could find a reason to care about badminton.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 17
OK badminton enthusiasts, look up from those angry letters for a moment: I'm sure your pastime of choice takes a fair amount of skill and many long hours of practice to master. But so do lots of other mundane and/or ridiculous activities. Just because something is hard to do doesn't mean it should be televised and passed off as a spectator sport. Unless they decide to add snarky column writing to the 2012 games, in which case I am so there.
MONDAY, AUGUST 18
I am going to show restraint. I am not going to kick former Johnny Carson sidekick and Publishers Clearing House pitchman Ed McMahon while he's down. I am not going to sarcastically and rhetorically wonder if he's going to pay back all those creditors who are suing him by coming to their doors with oversized novelty checks. That would be cruel, and really not even very funny.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 19
Well, it's been confirmed; "Bigfoot" was just a rubber costume. Now the two hillbillies who pulled the hoax have vanished, leaving the rest of us to sit and wait for the next attention-seeking wacko to come out of the woodwork and give us momentary cause to suspend disbelief. Where's my beer? MTW
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