List of Previous Titles

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370

The Greatest Mystery

Firstly, I must say that I am from Bermuda where we live with the infamous Bermuda Triangle, which is part myth and part non-mystery, in that small boats often go mising and unseaworthy cargo ships have sunk in horrendous seas.  However, no regularly scheduled airline has ever been lost, nor have any cruise ships gone missing. Had flight MH370  gone missing anywhere near Bermuda it woud have taken on an unnecessary element of mystery. The only thing we have to be thankul for is that it could not have happened farther away.

As it is, it is tragic enough by the sheer fact that it seems to have just dropped off the face of the earth. That has been made worse by an ever increasing volume of theories as to just what happened. Science has given us a fair idea of where the plane went, so let's review that information. It left the departing airport and headed in the direction of Bejing, but as it headed offshore it left its flight path by making a left turn inland. Had it developed some kind of  on-board technical problem it would turn off the flight path and out of that corridor to head inland, but the cockpit would have advised the tower as to what it was doing. Instead, it appears that a perfectly normal conversation was held just before the turn.

As the turn took place the cockpit did a strange thing: they turned off the transponder and the CARS system which appears as a deliberate act to eliminate their identity. Had control of the cockpit been taken over by some third party that would appear to be an action that indicated a hijacking in progress. From that point flight MH370 was identified by the continuing radar blip without identifying symbols. The flight was followed across the land mass until it came to the junction of the north-south corridor at which time it dropped below radar.

It was a missed opportunity not to have scrambled airforce jets to follow the plane while it was enroute across the land mass, because once it dropped below radar it effectively fell off the face of the earth in so far as technology is concerned, with the exception that Boeing in Washington could tell that the engines were still working for another six hours or so.

Why were the two substantive and deliberate actions taken to render the plane invisible? Since it did not report mechanical problems, nor did it land for repairs we can totally rule that out. It seems that the plane and passengers were stolen with presumably the intent of ransom.

Science has told us that the flight turned south into the corridor, so if it did do that there would have been the likehood of landing in the northwest quadrant of Australia where there is a lot of territory into which it might possibly disappear, and where it would remain, if this was some very carefully crafted and supported plot, or it simply continued to fly over the Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel, at which time it simply would have fallen into the sea.

Had it landed on Australian soil there would probably have been a purpose to that, but to simply fly it until it ran out of fuel makes no kind of sense at all.

Could a plane of that size really land in Australia without the Australians knowing? A good question for the experts, but I imagine that a search of the northwest must be taking place, although I haven't heard that is so.

The mystery continues as I write. The families reflect the growing stress on all people worldwide who might become air travellers. The Big Question is why is it taking so long to find some kind of definitive answer?  I am sure that those who are directly involved in the search are feeling the pressure more than anyone else to find something.

This is a mystery that will take as long as it takes to produce answers, if answers are ever produced. With 27 countries involved in the search it is very clear that no expense is being spared. We, meaning the whole world have to know what happened, even if we never get to know the why.


Copyright (c) 2014  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Las Fallas - The Unsung Heroes!

The Cleaners

Fallas has come and gone for another year. Valencia has celebrated its greatest festival of the year in very cooperative weather and by all reports it was another great success. The time between last year and this has passed so quickly that it seemed to me that the ashes from the 2013 event had hardly time to cool before it was time to do it all over again.

It's a little strange to actually live here where fallas attracts more than 2 million people to the city from all over the world. My wife and I are becoming to be like lots of Valencians: when its Fallas we often leave the area or simply ignore the whole thing. At least we will not participate in subsequent years unless we have visitors. It tends to become too much of a good thing.

The continuing economic crisis in Spain is putting tremendous strain on festivals of this sort, but Fallas has a continuous record of celebrating the end of winter. The city becomes an incredibily noisy place from the first day of March until the 19th, which also happens to be Father's Day. Fathers around the world usually celebrate the day in a dignified manner, but not in Valencia. That is the last day of fallas when we set fire to the monuments, most of which cost the equivalent of building an average size house. We blow them up and burn them down to get rid of them, which is kind of a shame, but what else should we do with them? Our excuse for making so much noise is to chase away the old man of winter. By March 31st it usually does work, so we keep doing it.

There are many players who are crucial to Las Fallas being what it is. Most central are the artisans who design and build the monuments. For them this is a full time career, and as soon as this year's fallas have concluded they begin work on next year's. There are the Falleras, the ladies who dress in those terribly expensive dresses and their men, and the clubs who support them; and the bands who provide the marching music, the police and especially the firemen, and everybody else who make a contribution. We get to see them and to interact with them, but I want to focus on a group of hard working people who are all but invisible, but without them the difference would be intolerable.

During fallas some 650 monuments are erected and then burnt, at which time the spectators walk away without so much as a backwards glance. If they did look back they would see the advance of the cleaning brigades who move onto the smoking mass and within minutes the entire mess is cleared away so that others passing by have no evidence that anything at all had happened. At the height of the burnings the overhead view of Valencia City is that of a great disaster in progress. By the time the sun rises over the city all is clean and quiet once again. To watch the cleaning process in action is a wonderful spectacle, equal in my opinion to all the other action but I couldn't even find one mention of the wonderful work that is done by these very dedicated people.

It's a shame that mayor Rita Barberá doesn't read my blog because if she did I could appeal directly to her to correct this oversight by shedding some well deserved light on the subject. Of course, for this to happen I would have to write in Valenciano Spanish, which is the language of choice for the Mayor.

Perhaps that might happen one day.

Copyright (c) 2014  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why do dogs chase and kill cats if not to eat them?

They say he's man's best friend!

My wife asked the question that forms the title of this column. We wondered whether such behaviour places the dog in a special group with killer instincts, along with humans. The answer is yes, it does. It is true that other animals kill one another for reasons other than food, such as the right to mate, and the right to territory, but dogs kill for no apparent reason. We can only say that they are obeying their instincts.

The fact is that man's best friend is one of the most complex animals in the whole of the animal kingdom. More than most other animals dogs are the most successful in being brought into our homes and our hearts, but yet, they can just as easily turn and create some of the most horrific problems. A perfect example is the dog who was such a wonderful pet to his family, only to eat the new born baby who had been brought home.

Dogs are killers! In their natural state they are simply killing machines; they kill one another, other animals, sometimes for food, and they kill people. Yet it is we people who seem to think they are cute and charming. The dog is such a con-man he has it figured that if he gives a little love and affection to us we will give him a home with food, and that beats having to forage and kill everyday, just to survive.

One reason we think they are cute is that we can train them to an extent to do as we wish. They are smart enough to go along with the program and are capable of making themselves really useful, such as in search and rescue by using their superior sense of smell and hearing. Those dogs that act in place of a human's eyes sit at the very top of the totem pole as a valuable friend, in my estimation.

There is much to be learned by humans from our four-legged friend, the dog, but at the end of the day a dog is a dog. They are not children, nor are they toys, but they can be fountains of love and companionship, such as the handbag dogs. However, they don't have the human sense of morality and when they kill it happens because we, as being the person responsible for them, allow it to happen.

Dogs are also disgusting. I like to tell my friends that Max, my dog likes to eat cat food. When my cat vomits her food Max will lap it up, preferably while it's warm. He would really like to eat the food while it's inside of the cat, but I just won't allow it! Charming?

Copyright (c) 2014  Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The very sad trial of Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius
Under the circumstances I find it very difficult to adequately caption these photos.

On March 2nd, 2014 the long awaited trial of Oscar Pistorius got underway , wherein he is charged with unlawfully causing the death of Reeva Steenkamp, his then lover. Oscar admits to having shot her to death, but that it was an accident. The prosecution hold that it was no accident.

The event took place on February 14th, 2013, St. Valentine's Day, when most lovers show one another the depth of their love.

Many questions are outstanding about that fateful night, and it seems that everyone is somewhat impacted by the event, probably because Oscar was the darling and hero of the world by having overcome overwhelming odds to rise to the level of top notch athlete. He is The Blade Runner, a disabled man who competes against the fully able. From my own point of view I hold Oscar with the same degree of awe as I do Usain Bolt, and that is really saying something.

The trial is being broadcast around the world where it is considered South Africa's Trial of the Century. I find myself making comparisons with the O.J. Simpson trial in the United States, but there are differences. To begin with Oscar's trial is really a very sad spectacle of a young man who achieved much beyond all expectations, only to find himself, because of his own actions, in this very damming set of circumstances where there can be no winners. Reeva is dead and his future hangs in the balance.

A picture is beginning to emerge of a young egotistical, out of control man who had a love affair with guns, and a very hothead to go along with that. Too much fame, fortune, good looks, women at his feet, men who held him on a pedestal is a very potent poison that can get to anyone so afflicted. These things are not good and often bring celebrities to their knees. It is not a pretty sight.

I will reserve my personal opinion of whether I think he should be found guilty as charged or not; however, according to him he thought the person in the toilet was an intruder, who could have simply been taking a piss, however, with malice aforethought he fired four shots into the toilet intending to kill whoever was in there. He just didn't think it was Reeva. "I thought it was one of your people, My Lady,"  is what he will have to say to the lady black judge.

And this Oscar goes to .......prison for a very long time!

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Me, and Katherine P.

Katherine P. A Formidable Force

I met Katherine P many years ago when I was manager of a cocktail lounge, which was part of a hotel. She arrived in my lounge on a Sunday evening before dinner. I welcomed her, introduced myself, made her feel comfortable and suggested that after dinner she might perhaps like to join us for our live entertainment, which she did.

During the course of the evening we kept up a running conversation, and towards the end of the evening she asked me if I might be available to take a drink with her in an after-hours place. I was only too happy to do so, and so we drove into the city and I parked across from a nightclub in their parking lot. As we were leaving the parking lot our way was barred by three men, one of whom walked up to me and pushed me in the chest, demanding to know where did I think I was going with a white woman?

Several things came into play at that instant: I was clearly under threat of grievous bodily harm from these three thugs, so I had to consider to stay and fight, or take flight. I had a lady to protect. For all I knew they were going to abduct and rape Katherine, and I couldn't have that. Thirdly, I was challenged in front of a lady, so my pride was hurt and that made me very, very angry. Perhaps worst of all they had pushed my ego button, so no way was I not going to meet this challenge head-on.

In the split second that all those thoughts ran through my mind Katherine turned to me and said, excuse me. She then stepped forward to loudmouth and showed him something, and said, "I'm a Secret Service agent for the United States government. I help to protect the President of The United States of America and the first Family. Because you idiots have allowed me to get this close to you, if I choose, I could kill each one of you right now with my bare hands, and there would be nothing you could do to stop it!"

It's interesting to watch what happens when a person processes really bad and dangerous information. The colour drains from their face and they go ashen; the mouth drops open and the eyes bulge; and the arms hang loosely.

She continued:" you are interrupting a perfectly lovely evening and you need to get out of our faces. WHY are you still here?"  The three men launched themselves away from us as though they were shot out of a cannon.

Katherine then turned to me and apologised for not giving me a chance to deal with the situation, but she thought her way would be the fastest and least complicated. She hoped I would forgive her. I looked her straight in the eys and said, "Katherine, I think I love you!"

It turned out that I was just what was missing from her life--a man to love unreservedly, who didn't interefere in her career. For four wonderful years she came to visit me as often as she could, never the other way, until the romantic relationship had run its course. However, before things really got under way I became aware that someone was looking into my background and who I was.

Katherine and I never discussed anything to do with her "Ops" in spite of my incredible curiousity, but none-the- less Katherine P takes the prize for The Most Outstanding Person I have ever met. What a woman!

Copyright (c) 2014  Eugene Carmichael