Quote of the Day:
“I have learned the art of the pitch.” –Sidd Finch
A few days ago I opened AOL and saw the news that caused a lump in my throat. A tear began to form in my eye. A young boy was trapped in a balloon soaring out of control 10,000 feet above the Earth. The authorities were on the case and trying to figure a way to save him, but it looked bad for the little tike. The nation was glued to their TV screens, taking a break only to check on our own children, say a brief prayer, or maybe to post a Facebook update of concern and of the balloon’s latest coordinates. A few hours later we found out the boy was safe at home. We cheered. We hugged children close. We thanked God for the answered prayers, and updated our Facebook statuses. A few minutes later the cynics began to speculate the whole story seemed damned dubious and the whole episode had probably been a hoax. “Impossible”, many of us said, staring blankly at our televisions, and hoped against hope we were right. Our collective ire began to rise, like a bird, bubbles or maybe something else that rises into the sky, like inert gases or maybe something else that would fit here better, I don’t know, I’m off on a tangent now. The point is we slowly began to realize we’d been had and we were pissed. Yes, TB was pissed too, yesterday. Not today though. Maybe its just because I tend to the contrarian point of view or maybe its my exceptional, dry, twisted? sense of humor. Whatever. Today I laugh.
I might be the only one though. Folks don’t like to be “had”, especially folks who shape opinions. There is an outpouring of pitchfork wielding villagers calling for the head of the mad scientist, or at least for hard time. All the networks and most of the blogs want this man in jail too. And why? Well, as far as I can tell, its for pulling one over on us, for leading us to needlessly expend from our apparently limited reservoir of human compassion and for using up some precious prayer equity perhaps. Oh sure, a lot of time and money was wasted, public and private. Sending the balloon daddy to jail won’t recapture it though. Wouldn’t this work out better if he got his crummy reality show but had civil judgments that collected all his money? Maybe the government agencies could even come out ahead on the deal. Other than some sort of visceral relief, it seems to me the time, effort and money that is and will be spent on prosecuting this eccentric are not justified.
Really, I have only one problem with the whole hoax after a bit of reflection on the matter, and that is that he involved his kids. It’s not even that he claimed a kid was in the balloon–this story wouldn’t have gone viral if it was his pet hamster in the sky after all–but that he had the kids in on the game and then subjected them to media scrutiny. If not for that, I’d really give him two thumbs up for the whole caper.
Can some good come of this? Probably not. Of course, probably no long term harm either, setting aside the costs of convictions. If some good could come of it, if TB had his own show and could shape a few opinions, of course I have enough trouble shaping opinions here in the TBU, but then I’m off on another tangent now, I forgot what I was going to say.
What I meant to say was that collectively, maybe we should lighten up a little.
Here’s a link to my favorite hoax of all time. Read the first letters of all the words in the introductory sentence. I was 14 when George Plimpton told us about Sidd Finch and his 200 mph fastball, his french horn and his Harvard background in Sports Illustrated, and I bought the tale hook, line and slider. My old man didn’t. And I was hacked when he laughed at me when the truth came out. But I learned something I’ve never forgotten from the episode–not to accept anything without question, even from a trusted media source. Within a few more days I came to another profound realization–that a well executed hoax should be appreciated, and that the embarrassment over having been had is best alleviated by joining in with the laughter.
There were a few more profundities I intended to share when I began this, but I have other things to do. I have to go forward an email ten times so I can get my share of Bill Gates’ money, I must determine what action to take upon learning of a certain illegal alien residing in Washington DC, and I have to debunk the contention that the Northwest Passage was ever impossible, and I need to investigate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s possible involvement with the Piltdown Man. And time is short. According to Mayan prophecy there’s only 2 and half years left. That’s why I need to get my Bill Gates money asap, so I can travel to Africa and the Yukon and England to look for….but I’m off on another tangent it seems….
Bonus Quote of the Day:
“I’ll have to see it to believe it.” –Peter Ueberroth, in the last sentence of the Sidd Finch article