You are currently browsing the daily archive for February 4, 2010.

I was reading this story about Stephen Schafer, that poor fellah killed by sharks while kiteboard surfing (whatever that is) down in Flahrduh when these lines caught my eye:

Schafer’s friends told they are shocked by his death.

“I’ve never heard of multiple sharks in this area surrounding someone and fatally wounding him,” said the victim’s childhood friend, Teague Taylor, 36. “He was the nicest person ever.”

On Tuesday, the day before the fatal attack, Taylor told he was surfing near where his friend was attacked and he saw several sharks.

“You always think in the back of your mind that they (sharks) are out there,” he said.

Jordan Schwartz, who has known Schafer for five years, told that Schafer was a very experienced kiteboard surfer.

“He was a super nice guy. Always mellow. I don’t think he had any enemies,” he said.

I don’t want to seem unduly curmudgeonly here.  Obviously this was a horrid thing to have happened and I’m sure the poor man’s friends truly are in shock but………what possible difference does it make to the attack that he was a nice guy without any enemies?  Would it have been any less horrible if he was a right bastard who kicked dogs and stole children’s candy?  If the sharks had realized what they were about, would they have broken off and gone to find a less saintly sort?

I bring this up simply because I believe these people are actually reverting to the mass-media stereotypes that we have adopted in order to help ourselves deal with violence in our culchah.  All crazed gunmen and other perpetrators of such violence are remembered as being quiet and keeping to themselves, all victims as popular and outgoing.

The sharks, which could not be reached for comment, will of course be described by somebody as misunderstood.

Regular port-swillers will know that I currently am taking a pre-Lenten romp through the Flashman Chronicles of George MacDonald Fraser.  I’ve polished off Flashman, Royal Flash and Flashman’s Lady so far and am just starting in on Flashman and the Mountain of Light.

As is always the case when I read these books, I have been tantalized by the bibliographies set down in Fraser’s endnotes.   This time, however, I have started to do something about it.  Thus, to that end, I have just tracked down and purchased The Expedition to Borneo of H.M. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy: With Extracts from the Journal of James Brooke, Esq., of Sarawak by Henry Keppel, one of the sources on which Fraser bases his account of Brooke’s 1841 campaign against the Borneo pirates (in which Keppel participated) that is one of the major highlights of Flashman’s Lady.

According to Amazon, this book ranks at #1,962,493 in its sales list, so I’m assuming there isn’t all that much interest out there in it, but I will let you know what I think.  For myself, I expect to enjoy it thoroughly both in and of itself and also as the first step on a quest that may well last me many, many years – namely, to read as much of the source material laid out in the Flashman Chronicles as possible.

The other day the eldest gel received an e-mail containing an anti-Obama joke.  (As a matter of fact, it was really an anti-incumbent joke that I’ve heard before relating to other presidents.  The punch line involves throwing the president out of a plane and the satisfaction such action would bring to disgruntled citizens.)  Being still in the first, heady stages of email addiction, she immediately flipped it over to a group of her little friends.

Well, amongst the recipients was a gel whose parents are libs of the bluest sort.  A short time later, her mother wrote directly back to my gel, pointing out the thoughtlessness, tastelessness and potential racist implications of the joke in some detail.  The gel was appalled when she got the note back.  I don’t think she’s going to be forwarding any more political jokes any time soon.

Of course, being Dad, I only found out about all this after the fact.

Now I have no problem at all with the gel learning about civility in general and prudence in what is said to whom in particular, even if the lesson is a bit of a shock to her.  Burned hand and all that.  Nonetheless, I’m a bit miffed that the mother felt she should take it upon herself to administer said lesson.   She did so on the grounds that she has known the gel for a long time and therefore felt it was “okay” to deal with her directly, but the more I think on it, the more presumptuous this seems to me, particularly since I believe her “message” was thin-skinned, fussy and over the top.  (Plus, I’ll go bail she wouldn’t have sent it had the subject of the joke been Sarah Palin.)

Anyhoo, when the gel came to us in tears, we spoke to the friend’s mother, thanking her for her concern but suggesting that next time she has a problem with our child, perhaps she ought to speak to us about it first.


Blog Stats

  • 494,478 hits
February 2010