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Humor, though elusive, is rarely dangerous. Most of the time, a failed joke leads to a flush face and a few eyeball rolls or, at worst, a theater stampede from the latest Will Ferrell film. That is, until thoughtless gags elicit panic rather than laughter, as happened when a recent marketing ploy – in which small, luminous devices were placed around 10 cities, including Seattle – spun the city of Boston into gridlock and chaos. The ads were supposed to be part of an underground campaign for a television show, but were mistaken for bombs by some passersby. Beantown subways and roads were shut down for much of the day.Thankfully, no one was hurt and no other cities hit by the ad campaign flew off the handle. But that doesn’t alleviate the frets or finances expended.
The difference between a “hunger strike” and a “fast” is far more than semantics. For Carl Florea, the media’s insistent use of the first term rather than the second reflected a profound misunderstanding of his intent when he foreswore food for a time in response to the first Gulf War in 1991.
“Usury” is a word you don’t hear too often anymore, at least outside the Department of Medieval Studies. Condemned by the 12th century papacy, its practitioners relegated by Dante to the fiery ninth circle of Hell, the practice of lending money at exorbitant interest rates has been morally suspect as long as there have been sheep to fleece. Our modern, more laissez-faire attitude toward personal economics has taken some of the stigma out of high-interest lending, but a more descriptive term lives on in the vernacular: “loan sharking.”
Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. The ancient mariner’s lament was shared hereabouts by not-so-ancient photographer Pete Saloutos, a frequent swimmer at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center and among the many patrons dissatisfied with the quality of the pool’s drinking fountain.
Were this the classically earnest editorial endorsement, we would begin with a solemn recital of all the good things to be said about Bainbridge Island public schools – the excellence of the curriculum, the stratospheric test scores, the high number of graduates matriculating to four-year universities, the extraordinary dedication of the teachers and staff, the array of co-curricular activities that channel our kids’ energies to positive ends.
Back in the day, if you wanted to catch a ferry to the mainland, you didn’t have to go much farther than your neighborhood dock. Pick any year in the pre-Roosevelt half-century – let’s say, 1934 – and Puget Sound was awash in “Mosquito Fleet” ferry routes.
Repetition without solicitude rarely yields results. Just ask the mischievous student who scrawls line after line on the blackboard with little contrition, save his regret for being caught and punished.
Some routes are going to make money, some routes aren’t. That’s a simple fact of transportation systems: popular routes will subsidize those less traveled, allowing extension of the system – be it buses, trains or planes – to the farthest reaches of local civilization.
Rob Jacques rang up this week asking if we’d give some play to a new initiative by Bainbridge Island Television to promote civil discourse. Yes – and we’ll even endorse it.