Thursday, May 12, 2011

McKinleyville's Got Some Oddballs Too

When you heard that Osama bin Laden had been shot in Abbottabad, did you wonder, like me, what a Bottabad was?

("The terrorist leader was shot in his customary long, flowing leopard-print Bottabad...")

That oddly English-sounding bit of the name of bin Laden's last stand, 'Abbott-', is English indeed -- Abbottabad was named after General Sir James Abbott, KCB (1807--1896), an officer in the British Army, serving in colonial India (that is him above).

The cooler temperatures in summer in Abbottabad appealed to Abbott, as well as to generations of Indians and now Pakistanis, and also perhaps to bin Laden, hiding in plain view since 2005.

Let us hope that bin Laden did not further trouble the world by writing poetry, as Abbott did, about the place. The Guardian newspaper referenced the poem as one of the worst poems of all time. Brace yourselves...:
That Sweet Abbottabad Air
I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant show

To me the place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream

The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss

And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
A song very melodious and gay

I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right

And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon

Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow

Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a few sad tears

I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart

Bleagh! ("Bin Laden's last words were believed to be: 'Is this poetic justice?") Below, local kids looking at bin Laden's compund in Abbottabad, and below that, Abbottabad in 1907.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh No She Doesn't

From that reservoir of Hibernian wisdom, Irish Central, comes the strange tale of the woman from Oregon who after dental surgery, discovered that her voice had changed... she woke up with an Irish accent!!!

Except she didn't.

If you can be bothered, follow the link and watch the videos. She sounds about as Irish as Steven Hawking's computerized voice. Some news reports suggested that the same woman woke up with an English accent. Basically she woke up and her voice had changed — a medical mystery, certainly — but it just sounds squeaky and weird, not Irish or English.

This crucial information -- that the woman doesn't really have an Irish accent at all -- is half-admitted almost at the very end of the story: "...the 56-year-old tax consultant's accent now sounds like a strange mix between Irish, South African and British."

Groan. To mitigate the grotesque disappointment that this story delivers, I put up another nice photo of Murlough Bay in County Antrim.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Forgive Me, For I Have...

This is Sir Charles Napier, GCB (1782—1853), an Englishman and colonial warrior who came up with what was probably the most famous pun of the 19th century.

In the 1840s, Major General Napier led British troops in conquest into Sindh Province, which today is part of south-eastern Pakistan. Karachi is in Sindh Province. His mission was merely to quell a local rebellion, but in conquering the entire province, he exceeded his orders by quite a margin.

So Napier sent a message to his commanding officers, containing a single word in Latin: peccavi. It means... "I have sinned."

Guffaws rang out in Whitehall for decades afterwards.

Napier is credited with helping to stamp out the practice of Sati in what would become modern-day Pakistan, wherein a recently-widowed woman would be burned to death atop her husband's funeral pyre. And he famously said, neglecting to pun, but one hopes with some tongue in cheek (perhaps not):
so perverse is mankind that every nationality prefers to be misgoverned by its own people than to be well ruled by another...

People Who Make You Go 'Huh?' and 'Hmm...'

There is taking the moral high ground, and then there is falling from a great height. I'm not sure where former President of Ireland Mary Robinson is, but she's certainly falling.

On Sunday last, Robinson said during a BBC radio interview that: "We still probably don’t know the full truth, but it does appear that Osama Bin Laden was unarmed when the attack was made. In those circumstances, it would have been appropriate that he would be arrested and brought to justice....A great democracy would do that." (Maybe she meant unhinged, not unarmed?)

Oh good grief — she's lived in New York for how long now, and she thinks the U.S. is a great democracy? Actually, in an era of belt-tightening, one might have applauded that bin Laden was not brought to justice, at great expense, and that instead the U.S. sent him some home-delivered justice on the cheap. And paid for transportation of his body and his funeral!

Meanwhile, yawping their way into the gutter: people who, in the wake of the Navy SEAL action which killed bin Laden, are falsely claiming to be former Navy SEALs. Like Pastor Jim Moats of Pennsylvania, who told of his happy memories of his days as a SEAL, which included being waterboarded. Yes, he's that dim.

Waterboarding, all should know, is the enhanced interrogation technique favored by the Bush administration, and which involves not-quite-drowning someone until they cough up some information. Perhaps in the end, tipping bin Laden's body off a plank into the sea was the ultimate waterboarding...