Brain Wanderings, May 2007

Just some rambling thinking, random thoughts, what have you. None of the comments below are big enough to warrant a separate entry by themselves.

The past week saw wildfires in north Florida, south Georgia, and Los Angeles. Is this the worst since 1998? I still remember during the drought back then, a big portion of Florida, especially Volusia and Flagler counties, burned down. An old friend of the family lived in Ormond Beach, and we took her in until the emergency passed. However, she’s a rather eccentric lady who doesn’t have a husband and children, so she keeps dozens of teddy bears instead. It creeped Lindy out when she threw a birthday party for one of them!

The California blaze destroyed a park called Dante’s view, but barely missed the Griffith Observatory. I remember them well because I had several magazines from them as a kid; because their latitude is closer to the 28o of central Florida, I found their star charts more accurate than those in most books, which were geared for an audience living around 40o. Only the Griffith Observatory maps showed Canopus, for instance. Now that I’m living at 38o N (and yes, the night sky of Kentucky disorients me every time I look at it), the 40o N charts will be more useful to me than they were in the past. Still I’m glad Griffith was spared. I bet the people working in the observatory no longer see light pollution as their biggest problem!

Would you believe the first tropical storm of the season, TS Andrea, formed last week? My goodness, when I lived in Florida, the tropical storms/hurricanes always waited until the official start of Hurricane Season, June 1. It didn’t go very far, and fizzled out after a day, so I guess the ocean isn’t yet hot enough to keep such a storm going. Even so, I wouldn’t have minded this storm coming ashore, to put out some of those fires. I talked to Dad on the phone today, and he said one fire was close enough to smell the smoke.

I’m going to have to eat some crow pie, preferably with Dijon mustard, after the presidential elections in France. The new president they elected, Nicholas Sarkozy, is conservative, pro-American, and most amazing of all, half-Jewish. It may be asking too much to expect him to be a French Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher, but if he lives up to at least half of his promises, I’ll have to take back all my criticisms of the French in recent years; it looks like their anti-American and anti-Semitic policies are over. I’ll probably have to take down the webpage I wrote on the military history of France, too. And Star Spangled Ice Cream, the conservative alternative to Ben & Jerry’s, is going to have to change the name of one of their original flavors, “I Hate the French Vanilla.”

As usual, Ann Coulter showed an acid wit in this week’s column. She still types with a keyboard dipped in poison, to use a modernized version of an old expression, but I think her latest comments on the French are worth checking out; she used better words than I could, and this is probably as apologetic as she can get. However, while Ms. Coulter was correct in saying that the croissant commemorates a victory over Islam, she thought it was a Crusader invention, when it was really invented by the Austrians in 1529, to celebrate the defeat of the first Turkish attack on Vienna. I wrote about it here; remember that the next time you have a Burger King “Croissandwich!”

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