Wednesday, 21 May 2014

09:37 – We’re getting low on biology kits, so I’ll get started on a new batch today. We got a good start last weekend on cleaning out the upstairs work/inventory room. Once we finish that, I’ll have room to store a couple hundred or more kits there.


14:03 – I found this surprising: Only 56 percent of Americans can perform the five core swimming skills

The article notes that 86% of Americans believe they can swim, which apparently means that 30% of the people you encounter believe they can swim, but can’t. Hmmm. I believe I can swim, but perhaps I’m wrong. I learned to swim before I started elementary school. Our junior high school had an indoor pool, and half our gym classes took place in the pool. In high school and college I spent lots of time every summer swimming and diving, and I passed the Water Safety Instructor test in college. But I haven’t tested the hypothesis in probably 35 years or more, so perhaps I’ve actually forgotten how to swim.

But apparently nearly half of Americans lack even basic swimming skills, which is disgraceful. How can parents not teach their children to swim? How can schools not require that children demonstrate the ability to swim? Talk about a fundamental skill. If in fact 44% of Americans can’t swim, I’m surprised that only 10 people a day drown in this country.

47 thoughts on “Wednesday, 21 May 2014”

  1. The USA military thinks global warming XXXXX climate change XXXXX climate disruption is real so they need more guns. Big guns and attached to real fast planes:
    http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/MAB_2014.pdf

    “The two men were standing on the ship’s bridge in the summer of 2010 as it sailed about 100 miles north of Barrow, Alaska. When he noticed a gauge showing the water temperature was just above 40 degrees, Titley asked his companion if he had ever seen the water that warm, or if his tribe’s oral histories ever mentioned such warmth. In both cases, the reply was no. “That really brought this home—here we’re talking to the Inuit, the people who have lived here for thousands of years,” Titley recalled. “They have forgotten more about how to live in the Arctic than most Western men will ever know … and they had never seen this. That, to me, was pretty profound.””

    I think it makes sense to totally change western civilization over this, right?

  2. I never learned to swim. I suppose it’s not that big of a deal living in Nebraska (not much of a watersport state). My parents didn’t put us in any type of lessons growing up (I was always very jealous of my friends in swim school, learning karate, etc.). It was a bit of a bummer when I was younger and we’d go to the pool, but since I was probably 16 it’s pretty much been a non-issue. Do I wish I knew how to swim? Sure. However, at this point in my life I’m not particular motivated to go learn. I don’t have any irrational fear of the water, but I do have a healthy respect for the fact I can’t swim and so try and make appropriate common sense decisions regarding water activities. I made it through my youth without drowning and now I avoid those situations or wear a life jacket.

    We put our daughter in swim lessons at age 2. My wife is a good swimmer (High School Swim Team and all that). I go to the pool with them and most public pools now rarely get deeper than 5 feet for liability reasons and at 6’4″ I can spend the day in the pool with my kid and never have to swim a stroke. We don’t live anywhere near the ocean and I would never step foot in a lake or pond to swim (it’s like swimming in a big mud puddle).

    I imagine among certain ethnic groups the inability to swim is much higher than 44%. For example, of the dozen or so close black friends I’ve had in my life in different places, none of them have ever known how to swim.

  3. I made it through my youth without drowning and now I avoid those situations or wear a life jacket.

    I know how to swim, quite well in my not so humble opinion but I ain’t no Tarzan. Learned at young age and spend significant time on, or in, the water. Boating tends to do that. However, even with the ability to swim I generally never enter the water from the boat without a flotation device when the water is over my shoulders. Just not worth the risk. I also tend to wear my PFD while riding in the boat although I wear it loosely. Again, need to minimize my risks.

    And speaking of risks my doctor warned me at my last physical that I was now at the age where I should not be taking risks. Stay off high ladders, roofs, don’t do heavy lifting, careful getting in and out of the shower/tub. I am still quite capable although I no longer jump off the tailgate of my truck. I suppose the Dr. has to say to something for liability reasons.

  4. It takes under an hour to learn basic swimming skills, literally, and it could save your life. Unless you’re a bodybuilder, your specific gravity is almost certainly less than 1.0, so learning to float is trivial. If by some chance your body fat percentage is so low that you sink, learning to tread water is also simple. Once you can do that, learning the sidestroke or doggie paddle is pretty simple, and a simple crawl not much harder.

    I suspect that a fair percentage of the people who drown weren’t expecting to go into the water. But that happens, and if you can’t swim or at least float you’re screwed. I don’t care if you live in the Gobi Desert, you should know how to swim. I’ll bet your wife would be delighted to teach you.

  5. I had swimming lessons as a kid at the local small town “community center,” but didn’t have much occasion to use that skill until I got to USAF SERE training in the Philippines just prior to my second overseas tour. And we live on a large lake now, with rivers and streams and ponds all over the state here anyway, but I always wear a PFD on the wottuh; easy enough to slip and smack one’s head on something (or at my age have a stroke, haht attack or sumthin) and then where are your Johnny Weissmuller skillz then?

    The third or fourth absolutely gorgeous day here; sunny, with blue skies and big puffy white clouds and about 70 or so. The lake wottuh is still like ice, though. We are slogging through yahd and gahden work today and later I’ll grill up some burgers and swill Moxie on the rocks like the effete sybarite I am….

    I see that since it was the Dem regime that screwed the pooch in Benghazi the Dems have now appointed five Dems to investigate it. Perfect. Sorta like when the cops kick you to death in the street and someone whines about it, they investigate themselves and whaddya know: they’re clean as a whistle!

    I’m just hoping we get a third term with Obummer and/or the Mooch so things can get ramped up faster and we can all just get on with it. None of the usual RINO bastards have a chance anyway.

  6. Up until about six months ago I sank in fresh water. It’s not muscle bulk so much as having bones the density of cinder blocks. (That’s a colloquial expression indicating an estimate. I’ve never actually removed a femur and checked its density.) However, I’ve been so banged up from so many stupid injuries since late last year that I’ve been unable to exercise and have put on enough fat that I’m sure I’d float. Very annoying.

    Son#2 also sinks in fresh water. It’s an issue because he’s on a swim team.

  7. I agree about wearing a PFD regardless of age or ability. Even excellent swimmers can drown. Getting banged on the head or inhaling water unexpectedly has drowned more than a few good swimmers.

    And it really is easy to end up in the water unexpectedly. I’ve watched it happen while boating, hiking, and on hunting trips. In fact, I’ve watched several people end up in the water unexpectedly, with one slipping and falling in and others trying to help the first person. There was never a tragedy in any of these incidents, but there easily could have been.

    Not far from the town where I grew up is a little town called Slippery Rock, PA. There’s a state college there. When I was in college, Slippery Rock State University was mostly a teachers’ college, and most of the students were girls. I went to a college that was mostly guys, and guys would often drive down to Slippery Rock and buzz a girls’ dorm to invite all of them to a party.

    When I moved to Winston-Salem in 1979/80, I was surprised that so many people down here had heard of Slippery Rock State University. It turns out that it was a standing joke because of its name. They didn’t understand that the name wasn’t funny. It was literal. There are rocks in Slippery Rock Creek, and they are incredibly slippery. For the last 150 years or more, people have drowned after slipping on those rocks.

  8. None of my kids high schools have/had pools. We got them lessons at the Y or other. My high school, in Rhinelander, WI, had a large pool and every sophomore class spent the entire year for PE in the pool. I still use the side stroke and elementary back stoke to tool around. I suck at the crawl, but was taught how to do it. The PE instructors rough housed us in the second semester to help drown proofing. The Army taught me the jelly fish float, how to make a life preserver out out my pants or shirt, how to get undressed in the wawa, etc. We had to go through this every two years as aviators.

  9. I just remembered the high school swim test. Step off the diving board, touch bottom, come up and tred water until the PE coach said OK, swim any way you want to the other end of the pool without touching bottom. I guess that is the 5 core skills right there.

  10. More great nooz from the Obummer Regime; they’re putting U.S. boots into the search for the missing Nigerian girls now. Gee, when the Commanderette-in-Chief barks on Twitter, DOD gets rolling.

    “About 40 of the troops make up the launch and recovering teams for the drone being deployed there and the other 40 make up the security force for the team. Caggins said this latest deployment will not involve ground searches by the troops.”

    Yeah, I sure do buy that. And my impression was that the Nigerians (and us) already knew where those girls are. As usual, the story changes every day and you know they’re lying when you see their lips moving.

  11. And this is our problem how?

    I’m seriously thinking of running for Emperor in 2016. If elected, I’ll run things on the Roman model, from around (say) the time of Vespasian or Titus. I’ll keep proscriptions to an absolute minimum, which won’t be easy.

    And I don’t have children, so I’ll follow the lead of the Five Good Emperors and re-establish the practice of succession to the throne by adoption rather than birth.

    I really, emphatically don’t want to be emperor. It’s a filthy job, but someone has to do it and it might as well be me.

  12. I’m seriously thinking of running for Emperor in 2016. If elected, I’ll run things on the Roman model, from around (say) the time of Vespasian or Titus. I’ll keep proscriptions to an absolute minimum, which won’t be easy.

    And here I thought your governing style would have been patterned after Robert the Bruce. Please do run in 2016. You’ll save me from doing it. I think I’d make a good king, but I’d rather not. Having a three year old princess in the house is bad enough. Having her be a literal Princess would be intolerable.

  13. You’d also be violating the succession-by-adoption rule.

    Robert the Bruce was a great tribal leader, but I need to set my sights higher if I’m to be emperor. Anyway, if I were looking for an example among British kings, I’d probably choose Stephen.

  14. 80 USA troops today, 8,000 troops tomorrow and 800,000 by Christmas.

  15. I wonder if we were even invited. Obuttwad probably just sent troops because RAAACIST!

  16. No, no, Mr Atoz. If you question the Lightbringer’s words or deeds in any way, then you are the raaaaaacist.

  17. “I’m seriously thinking of running for Emperor in 2016. If elected, I’ll run things on the Roman model, from around (say) the time of Vespasian or Titus.”

    Ah yes, I see others already hit upon the Robert the Bruce thing. Monarchy ain’t all it’s cracked up to be; better an iconoclastic rebel against whichever rotten regime. And one of these days, some filmmaker will try to be a little more accurate and pick someone larger than the great Mel Gibson for William Wallace, and once again someone a LOT larger than little Tommy Cruise for the Jack Reacher character, who is my size, although I have a few pounds on him and am not in nearly the same shape.

    J’ever notice how the regimes like to run phony humanitarian missions in areas where there are huge energy or other geopolitical concerns? How conveeeeeenient. And since the Nigerian security forces can’t seem to control the rascals messing up the oil refinery biz there, maybe a few Marines and spec ops FAC’s can do the gig.

    You want a lonely fucking job in the military? Try doing the FAC gig; I had it several times and boy, you are one lonely mofo out there, ditto the LP capers, i.e., listening post; all by yer lonesome in the dark, no commo, no ciggies, no lights, no chit-chat, just you and the bugs and venomous reptiles and Mr. Charles.

    Dollars to doughnuts there are FAC operators long since in place there in Nigeria and Chad; gee I wonder if the FFL troops will make an appearance; hell, they know the ground.

  18. As Chad says, a very high % of the public who can’t swim are those who simply didn’t have any opportunity to swim as children. And probably a lot of them have enough sense to stay out of the water as adults, although this obviously discounts accidental immersion. On the other hand there are people like my mother, who grew up in close proximity to a very large river in the middle of the North American continent. It seems that in the 1930s, rather than teach kids to swim, they were told ‘Don’t fall in the river or you’ll drown.’ Sadly, this turned out to be true for one of her younger brothers when he was about 12; that just increased her fear of the water. I grew up less than 100 yards from the Gulf of Mexico, and my dad made sure I could swim even before I could walk. We have quite a few drownings here every summer, but the vast majority of them are Darwinian situations. Don’t go swimming after drinking beer on the beach all day, and don’t go swimming when the red flags are flying.

  19. I wonder if my daughter was kidnapped, would Obummer send the Marines to find her?

    I’m a RAAACIST!

  20. I’d learned to swim by about eight or so. I had lessons at school as well as with a private swimming school. Haven’t swum for about 20 years but I think I still know how.

    I like swimming, and the beach, and not just for the scenery. But I could easily have died about 30 years ago. I was swimming at Manly Beach in Sydney and got in to a rip/undertow, so I couldn’t swim back to shore. I was getting very tired, no one nearby seemed to take any notice of me. Then I just swam 20 metres or so parallel to the shore and I was out of the ri and could get back to shore.

  21. But apparently nearly half of Americans lack even basic swimming skills, which is disgraceful. How can parents not teach their children to swim?

    I learned to swim in grade school. We lived within walking distance of a public beach in Chicago. Over the years I have swum for exercise, although I am currently out of the habit. All of our kids learned to swim when they were young. Two of them were on swim teams. Our middle son refused to swim in the ocean after he saw “Jaws”. He doesn’t believe that I once was caught in the middle of a school of barracuda while scuba diving.

    Went sailing on the Columbia River yesterday. It was magnificent. Sunny and in the 70’s. Winds from 10 to 30 knots. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions. I always wear my PFD when in a boat unless I’m in the cabin. In six years of sailing on the Columbia I ended up in the water once. I was stepping off the boat with a mooring line and the boat shifted away from the dock just as I stepped off. It was late summer and the water was pretty warm, but I was glad I had my PFD on. It inflated, automatically as it was supposed to. The main downside was that I had to buy a recharge kit.

    I’m going to Port Townsend, Washington this weekend and will sail with a friend from there to Edmonds, Washington, on the other side of Puget Sound. It should be a nice weekend.

    Rick in Portland

  22. Wow, those swimming skills are very basic. I don’t much like swimming, and was never really any good at it, but swimming 25 yards to an exit and getting out of the water? That is very minimalistic…

    The girls in Nigeria: The kidnappers are scum and I hope they meet an appropriate end. However, as y’all have said: Why is this the business of anyone other than Nigeria and Nigeria’s allies? Kidnapping in unsettled parts of the world is very common – this incident only gets attention because it was particularly slimy.

  23. I’m going to Port Townsend

    Nice town. Know my way around the town fairly well. My aunt lived there. Had a place on Beckett Point that overlooked Discovery Bay. Went there a couple years ago to scatter her ashes. From there we went to La Push, no TV, no phone, no internet. In fact not much of anything and I actually enjoyed the time I spent there.

    Why is this the business of anyone other than Nigeria and Nigeria’s allies?

    Because they are black and match the skin color of our self anointed king and his mooch.

    It inflated, automatically as it was supposed to.

    My PFDs are all foam filled, no automatic stuff. TWRA does not allow them when you are water skiing. Mine is quite comfortable, but expensive. I have six really ugly, uncomfortable but cheap in the storage area in the boat to meet the legal requirements.

    I have been stopped by TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resource), the Kingston police, the TVA police (did not know they had water way enforcement) and the Roane county sheriff. All in one day.

    All of them have boats they use to patrol the river as a money making venture. I find it odd that when they stop me I am wearing the PFD, sitting down in the boat, they are not wearing a PFD and are standing in the boat while it is in motion. They are also weighed down with bullet resistant vest, weapons, bullets and other stuff on their Batman tool belt. Pointed that out to TWRA one time and it pissed them off so they went over my equipment, registration and insurance with a fine tooth comb. Then they asked if one of them could come aboard and search my boat. I told them no, they cannot search my boat without probable cause. I figure they would trump up something but they did not and left.

    When I had a wave runner you had to have the same equipment as a boat. A fire extinguisher was located under the front hatch, in a tube with a screw top. When I was stopped for an inspection I pointed out to TWRA that in case of a fire, when I am sitting over an 18 gallon gas tank the last thing I am going to do is reach for an extinguisher by opening a hatch, unscrewing a lid, extract the extinguisher, pull the pin and spray my ass that is now being cooked. TWRA agreed and said best to get off and let the thing burn as it would make a good signal fire. But rules are rules.

  24. They are also weighed down with bullet resistant vest, weapons, bullets and other stuff on their Batman tool belt.

    Rules are only for us peons. You could always have pushed him in 😉

  25. If he’d done that he woulda been riddled like a Swiss cheese with selective-fire M4’s and 9mm crunchentickers, no doubt.

    Speaking of rules, we were wondering yesterday here whether it was legal for peeps to ride in towed boats that were in motion on the road with their attached vehicles. (saw kids sitting in motorboats being towed on the road here)

    Also getting tired of local riff-raff white trash punks revving their engines constantly in the vicinity and scrubbing out repeatedly, usually late afternoons, early evenings. Thinking about land mines and suchlike…

  26. You’d probably be better off with something that’s command-detonated, like a Claymore.

  27. Is it just me, or does Mexico have some nerve to detain a US citizen?

  28. LOL! Seriously, this guy couldn’t tell he was crossing into a foreign country, and the Marines trusted him with a .50 cal machine gun? And then he compounds the error by attempting an escape?

    As for nerve, apparently your Commander in Chief has lost his. Maybe the Mooch ate it?

  29. bgrigg, have you ever been to the US-Mexico border? Even on roads, which this guy was on, the border is not always marked. Same for the US-Canada border, last I checked.

    However, in this case, his mistake was in missing his (US-side) exit and then having no choice but to go to the border checkpoint. It’s not that he didn’t realize he was at the border, it was that he couldn’t avoid it. I haven’t heard all of the details so I’m not sure why he couldn’t do a U-turn or stop and back up, if that was his only option, but maybe there was too much traffic and no place to pull over.

    It also wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he stopped on the US side, said he didn’t want to cross but made a mistake, was told that he could just cross and turn around and come right back, and then was stopped “attempting to escape”. I have no evidence that that happened, but I’ve seen similar-enough occasions of official jackasses giving disastrously bad advice and letting the peons deal with the consequences.

  30. Speaking of rules, we were wondering yesterday here whether it was legal for peeps to ride in towed boats

    No. Passengers are never allowed in towed vehicles or trailers using standard ball and socket or fifth wheel hitches. You can ride in towed boats on the water, not on the road.

  31. I can attest that the U.S./Canadian border around here has many areas that are unmarked and where someone could inadvertently cross either way; but the Border Patrol is out there all the time (including twelve miles south of it, here in town) and I would guess there are various aircraft and drones aloft, too. Primarily because of the traffic between Montreal and NYC, of whatever sort.

    “…You’d probably be better off with something that’s command-detonated, like a Claymore.”

    Yeah, on further reflection, agreed. Would also just like to see a patrol car, whether the town’s or the sheriff’s, cruise on through occasionally during those times. And we also have a pretty good idea where these punks and their vehicles all live, about four or five miles up the road; driveway looks like a parking lot. Apparently their main source of entertainment and activity is simply driving back and forth to the gas station/creemee stand around the corner here in the bay, scrubbing out, revving the engines (which seem to be without mufflers), yelling, tossing out rubbish, etc. We’re not tolerating another summuh of this shit; next-door neighbor evidently does and sez well, we’ll have our place back when summer’s over, but fuck that. Will be gathering intel on this meanwhile.

  32. I’m not sure why he couldn’t do a U-turn or stop and back up

    There is no where to make such a maneuver as you get close to the checkpoint. Found this out when visiting Niagara Falls I accidentally got on the wrong road in Canada. Had no choice but to go through the checkpoint as there was no way off. The wife had left her passport in the hotel. The agent was able to check that she had a valid passport and let us through so we could turn around and go back into Canada. We told the Canadian border agent our story, he asked for our hotel key, we told him we were leaving the next day. If he wanted he was welcome to hold onto my wife until I got to the hotel and got her passport. He let us pass.

    When we returned at our normal departure date at a different location once you pass a certain point, generally the last exit, there is no place to turn around. You are committed to going through the checkpoint. Big signs inform you that such is going to happen. Same experience when we went to Vancouver, pass the last exit and you cannot turn around. This was Canada to US, not sure about US to Mexico.

  33. I’ve crossed at many a US/Canada border, even unmanned ones, and always knew that I was crossing the border. Even back in the free days before 9/11 when all you needed was your driver license. Well marked signs in every case. I’ve even crossed over over both crossings near Niagara, and am baffled as to how Ray got confused. There is a point of “no return” but that is long past the many signs denoting that you’re on the road to the US of A. In fact, I got turned back from the US once at the Peace Bridge US Customs point, and at that time (early 80s) there was a U-turn road just past the guardpost. Google Maps shows me a different layout from what I remember, so I imagine it’s been changed in the 30+ years since.

    The only US/Mexico border I ever drove across was San Diego/Tijuana via the SD Freeway, which clearly showed I was nearing an international border, and in an area where there were places to pull out and turn back. I confess my trip to Tijuana was less than two hours, but at least I knew I was reentering the US!

    The escape I mentioned was the marine attempting to escape from a Tijuana jail, not escaping the country. The story linked above doesn’t say where he crossed over, but since he ended up in a Tijuana jail, I’m left to presume at Tijuana.

  34. I’m usually not one to deal with kidnappers, but I’d suggest that the US make Mexico an offer it can’t refuse: they send back our Marine and we in turn send back their 30 million or so illegals.

  35. Yeah, I remember crossing the border on a rural road in Vermont or New Hampshire. There was a sign. It said “Welcome to Canada” on one side and “Welcome to the US” on the other.

  36. “Send back our Marine in good condition and with all of his property and we’ll send you your 30M emigrants in as good condition as we can manage. If you don’t, we’ll send you parts of 1M of your immigrants every day.”

  37. Twenty-ish years ago, not all roads crossing the US-Canada border had a sign. Thirty-ish years ago, nowhere near all roads crossing the US-Mexico border had a sign or other indication, at least not in Arizona. (In the latter case, calling some of the ruts in the ground “roads” was being very generous, but they were marked as roads on our military maps, and they were traversable by normal cars if you took it slow.)

  38. I have seen and heard testimony from long-time border residents up here, mostly farmers and loggers, that right after 9/11, the place was crawling with cops, troops, Border Patrol, Customs, you-name-it, with lots of chopper traffic overhead constantly. That has died down quite a bit but it’s never gone back totally to pre-9/11 status, either.

    We normally go back and forth at a fairly remote/rural crossing where we basically have to wake the guy up to check us through and they know us and the vehicles by now. We usually stop and shoot the shit for a while with them. The other crossings are a pain coming back into wonderful kingly Murka and the Canadians tell us it sucks for them going back into Kanaduh.

  39. am baffled as to how Ray got confused

    Simple (or stupid depending on your perspective). We needed to drop off some former exchange students and not wanting to stop traffic pulled into the duty free lot. You cannot get out of that lot except by going over Rainbow Bridge and through the border crossing.

    Of course it got me to wondering. If you don’t have a passport and wind up on the bridge, you cannot go into the US, you cannot go into Canada. You are stuck on the bridge forever I guess.

  40. The other crossings are a pain coming back into wonderful kingly Murka and the Canadians tell us it sucks for them going back into Kanaduh.

    When we made the trip to Niagara Falls we had two former exchange students with us, both from Germany. They had arrived on different days and had never met each other until the trip. It was difficult explaining to Canadian border agents why we had two people with us that were not related to us or each other, arrived in the US on different dates and were now traveling with us into Canada. We spent ten minutes trying to explain it all. I don’t know why it made a difference as everyone was over the age of 21.

    Coming back into the US we had no problems other than the usual stupid questions, one of them being “why are you returning to the US?”

  41. ““why are you returning to the US?”

    And you answer: “For the wonderful Diversity, Opportunity and Freedumbs!”

    Or alternatively, “We just want one more look at how awful it sucks before we move the hell out permanently!”

  42. “Of course it got me to wondering. If you don’t have a passport and wind up on the bridge, you cannot go into the US, you cannot go into Canada. You are stuck on the bridge forever I guess.”

    More like two hours. True story, and I alluded to it earlier when I said I was turned back at the Peace Bridge entry. A Scottish born friend and I were traveling to the US for a wander (AKA walkabout), and the US Customs official (complete with Smokey the Bear hat and pearl gripped chromed handgun) decided that the two long-hairs he had in front of him didn’t have enough money and were likely to steal jobs from legitimate American workers, so back we went. Halfway over the bridge, my idiot friend realized he didn’t have his passport. Usually not too much of a problem for a fellow Commonwealth member, but since we were turned around from the US side we were held up for almost two hours while we were checked out. Trapped between two countries, neither of which were all that interested in letting us in, was an interesting experience in bureaucracy! Not to be repeated!

    I’ve had CBSA (Canadian Border Service Agency) agents ask me why I was returning to Canada after visiting. Apparently “I live here” is a smart ass answer. So is “I don’t know, I guess I should have stayed in a foreign land, instead of returning to the land of my birth”.

  43. Apparently “I live here” is a smart ass answer.

    Indeed it is according to my experience. Coming back from Germany I was asked “Why are you returning?” To which I replied “Because I live here.” The border agent then told me “Don’t get smart with me.” I responded with “Seriously? How would you like me to answer the question?” He then stamped my passport and waved me through.

    According to others the question is designed to rattle you and see how you respond. I guess a middle finger salute would also be appropriate.

  44. If that question is designed to rattle then it must surely do so for many people; it’s blatantly stupid on the face of it, so someone getting asked is likely to be a tad rattled, as in WTF???

    There has got to be a special place in Purgatorio, or Inferno, for the worst violators, where these types of officious jackasses can stay for a while and ask each other dumbass questions and perform cavity searches, etc. They might like it at first, but after a few centuries?

  45. I find it really weird to think of not being able to swim. Then again, a lot of people feel similarly about driving: those who can do it can’t imagine how people live without it. The difference, of course, is that you can drown if you don’t know how to swim.

    I think people are better at swimming here in the UK, because there’s a fairly decent programme in state schools. The one exception to this is inner cities, especially London, where there aren’t any near/cheap pools. A few of my urban friends tell me they can do little more than thrash in the water.

    Speaking of swimming and the US, I’ll link to a cool article I read about a former US ambassador to Vietnam who started a huge water safety programme there.

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