Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Don't buy any green bananas

Ben is back safe and sound – albeit a bit damp. Wherever Cate’s luggage went it was a very damp place and everything was wringing wet. Perhaps they just hosed it when it arrived in Wien.

Cate is staying only two days and then is going to Turkey – but only briefly. We hope to leave at lunchtime on Friday to go to our lakeside retreat in Hungary.

What usually happens is that there is a series of crises just before departure time and we leave hours late.

Billy gets his winter tires on Wednesday – this is an encouraging sign that winter is close. No one else here likes winter much – but we love it.

This place is more dangerous than Iraq. The Austrian Times reported yesterday that:

“Poor visibility, early sunsets and wet surfaces frequently covered with fallen leaves make cycling more dangerous in the autumn, the Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) has warned.It noted today (Mon) 16 cyclists had died and 700 had been injured in accidents from October to December 2008 and 33 had died in accidents from January to September this year.”

Holy Toledo! I haven’t been out since we got back from our holiday – but I will certainly be careful when I do. It’s almost as dangerous as skiing.

(The weekend death list hasn’t come through yet – it is still being compiled by teams of paramedics on those snowy slopes. I will report on Thursday).

A few days ago CNN – and many other American TV channels became absolutely transfixed by Balloon Boy. This was supposedly a small child who was floating around in a runaway balloon – or had fallen out of the (non-existent) basket – or whatever - and the US TV networks scrambled their helicopters and cancelled the holidays of all their staff to follow every excruciating second of this piece of gruesome schlock.

As CNN does whenever something of zero global interest happens – they suspended all normal programming and ran the story nonstop for hours and hours - telling us precisely the same thing – and showing the same TV film, over and over and over again and interviewing an enormous number of people who could tell us absolutely nothing at all. (Not that I listened – I was reading but had the TV on).

Fox did the same – only punctuated by regular frenzied outbursts of spitting and fuming at the President (probably for not having a ‘runaway balloon’ policy).

It was – as anticipated at the outset by the more cynical and jaundiced of us - a hoax. There was clearly no basket under the balloon and I thought it unlikely that the child could be inside (as some suggested) breathing Helium. The Balloon was simply too small to carry anything larger than an emaciated musk rat so there was never much danger of it carrying off a small child.

The networks are of course livid and have now turned on the perpetrators with the zeal of foxes tearing a trapped rabbit to pieces.

The only amusing thing to come out of this is the attached video from the Hitler News Network – which doesn’t work if you listen to the German – but use your imagination.

Balloon Boy

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