In my description yesterday of all the things that can and will go wrong on a cruise, I forgot to mention the nefarious human element.  No, not the lawyers – the scurvy dogs of the sea, not land.   I’m talking, of course, about real, live, modern day pirates.  In case some of you may be doubting the ability of such social misfits to disrupt an entire giant cruise ship,  let’s all remember back to that classic movie, Under Siege.  And that was a navy ship, not a bunch of landlubbery cruisers.

just in case my movie example still didn’t convince you, here’s an article that should.  That’s right, somewhere off the coast of Somalia, a ship (name undisclosed) was captured by unknown pirates.  The number of guests and crew members – if there were any – remains undisclosed.   And, though we know the boat is French, the names of the owners remain undisclosed.

While I’m a big fan of the romanticization of piracy, the lure of the ocean, and ratty locks of hair, these nameless and faceless pirates are probably not the kind of people I’d want bursting into my stateroom in the early hours of the morning.  And you would think something as big as a cruise ship would be able to repel a small party of boarders.  However, as a luxury boat, such huge ships are unlikely to be outfitted with weapons (does anyone know if cruise ships have small arms lockers and such?), which may make them more vulnerable.  Again, not my idea of a fun time.

Finally, the article also announced that global pirate attacks rose 10% in 2007 while the preceding three years there had been no rise.  What does this mean? Did pirate attack numbers stay stable, or fall?  Is this a growing trend?   Are we going to need to go back to the days of privateering in order to keep at least some waters safe for travel?  Are pirates teh real cause for boat-shipped packages arriving after more than three months in China, or the international delay of cheese exportation to that country?  I await the facts.

Politics, humor, and gender

I was amused by the MIT website this morning and the featuring of a conference on gender and the politics of humor.  Of course, at the time the words got all mangled up in my brain and I thought they were talking about gender and political humor.  It is an amusing and interesting idea nonetheless, but I was more intrigued by my original misconception.

Why is it that Hilary Clinton is not funny?  Or most of our presidents, really.  I mean, there are jokes made about them, but it’s rare for a president to crack a joke.  Especially while campaigning.  But crusty old presidents enmeshed in their own seriousness like Nixon and Grant let out crazy jokes once and awhile.  Even W has let out a joke or two in these ending days.  So what keeps them so serious most of the time?  And why do they think it’s to their benefit? I mean, even Ross Perot’s political career might not have been sunk if he’d been able to laugh at himself.

I’m not saying that our presidents should be mere performers, or that the seriousness of their office does not impose its own rigor.  But it’s important to realize that all public office is just that – an office.  It’s something that you walk away from after your term.  It’s something you do, not necessarily who you are.  Now that we’ve had females in many major political positions, it’s time for some not-so-serious reform.  If bush and Clinton can loosen up enough to hang out together in casual togs, then Hilary should be able to wear something other than a suit.  Maybe even a flower summery dress that reminds us she’s a woman, using it as a strength.  After all, most of us females are caught wanting it all – a great home life, a great professional career, and both the respect and love of our peers.  If our President can’t manage it, how can we?

As of now, I’m loved.

I happened to be browsing the ‘Current Events’ section of the interweb and came upon another article on Facebook.  Despite the fact that this social site has basically taken over my life due to Scrabulous, I sometimes wonder at what other people are doing with/on it.  I mean, if you don’t have about half your work day to squander playing online, when do you find the time for this stuff?  Of course, many users are young college students with plenty of time to squander.  Still, I was quite surprised at the article, which focuses on relationships and Facebook as the real way to know you’re in one.  Interesting.

I understand the appeal of Facebook as a means to keep in touch with people.  It’s great for keeping up ties if you’re living far from your friends, or extended family.  It offers a variety of services (such as ‘events’ or ‘notes’ or ‘mini-feed’) that allow users to keep up on the happenings and mundane details of a range of acquaintances.  It’s a tool that begs to be used.  But at the same time, like other innovations of the internet, it allows communication to become increasingly indirect.  When you can avoid discussing being in a relationship and what that implies  by simply posting it on Facebook and waiting for a confirmation, that’s not necessarily a good thing.  It reverts our social growth to the note-passing we did in middle school to ask people out, fearful of a direct rejection.  It dehumanizes a part of what should be a close and personal bond between two people.

I must admit, I was only recently aware that the ‘in a relationship with______’ function required authentication form the other party.  I had changed my status sometime last year to reflect that I was serious about Mike, and then promptly put the whole thing out of my head.  He only recently accepted the modification, possibly because he’s one of those who is rarely on the site what with his ‘real job’ and all.  What if I had been asking him out with that little change?  Would the consequent lack of response spawned negativity and confusion?  I hope not.  After all, a relationship should at least be more serious than the click of a mouse.