#363 Bird Hunt
There's a crow infestation here in Moot Point and the locals don't know what to do about it. Thousands of crows have crowded around a corner occupied by a bunch of downtown restaurants, and filled the streets with, well, the things birds fill the street with when there are zillions of them flapping around.
The restaurants are mediocre. But the crows aren't picky. Food is food. Why there are so many of them, and why they congregate in one spot is open to speculation. The crow corner is directly across the street from the local college, Party State University. And there's speculation the crows are auditing courses, trying to learn all the good stuff taught at this major school: drinking, football, tactical weapons design and Aviation.
Others think of the crows are good capitalist supply- siders and adding to the fertilizer supply that already abounds. (Or that colleges and the restaurants that surround them are where fertilizer should aggregate.)
The Big Thinkers at Party State are at a loss for a solution. They can shoot 'em. They can synthesize the sounds of the crows' natural enemies, the owls, or they can just put up brainless Oz-style scarecrows. But there are downsides to each of these. The first would bring the Save the Crows Federation out in force. The second would require wiring the Great Outdoors for sound. The third wouldn't work and would strike the crows as funny. It's embarrassing for guys with PhDs to get laughed at by a bunch of crows.
Eventually, the crows will realize the food at the restaurants is mediocre and move on.
So this is one bird hunt that will probably not need undertaking.
The OTHER bird hunt has been labeled a "success." The military has shot down a spy satellite, a bird of another kind, using a missile launched from a Navy ship called the "Lake Erie," but which is stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
They sent up this spy thing a couple of years ago, and as soon as it got into orbit, it refused to talk to its handlers here on earth. No manner or variation of "can you hear me now?" would get the thing to respond.
There were two things on board the bird, things that the Army didn't want to crash back down to earth. And when the satellite started wobbling, they knew things were going to get nasty. The two things were a tankful of poisonous fuel and some pretty snazzy spyware, not the kind in your computer, the kind that helps us find secret stuff, like, say, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Also, there was a chance that the thing would come down in one piece. And no one knew where that one piece would land. If it chose North Korea, the North Koreans would say we were bombing them, thus starting a war, and retaliate. Meantime, they and the Chinese could steal our snazzy spyware. Of course, the military denies the snazzy spyware ever existed. "Nah, it's just a Sony digital camera and a pair of Nikon binoculars. Nothing special," say the generals.
The Army's worried about poisoning us? With rocket fuel?
So they shot the thing and saw a fire ball, which they assume is from the toxic fuel, since, as we all know, when you blow up a Sony digital camera and a pair of Nikon binoculars, you don't get a fireball.
The thing lands in the Pacific, and a year from now, you're going to get a whole slew of Pacific salmon, each with two heads and some with feet. And when you have one for dinner, you're going to glow in the dark. Handy when the power goes out, and, of course, no danger to your health.
Now our good friends in Beijing want assurances that we won't do that kind of thing again, because we're the good guys and should promise not to use offensive weapons in space, even to knock down our own bird.
The Russians don't like it either. But they won't make much noise, since they want us to help them pay for locks for the doors on the barns in which they keep their nukes.
Probably what the Pentagon should have done was capture the Moot Point crows and sent them to escort the errant satellite to earth.
The oddest thing about this whole story is that the guys who made the satellite, Lockheed-Martin, won't admit they did it. The only way you're going to find out for sure is by reading the company's next annual report, where a footnote will identify missed "performance payments" from the Pentagon. And an expense item for crow food.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®