February 23, 2013 7:58:38 PM
Do you get the feeling that the Earth is spinning a bit off her axis these days? Strange things are happening, and I'm not talking only about inside of our City Council chambers. It seems that the entire world is crazily out of kilter.
The news from Russia was scary enough. A meteor landed near the Ural Mountains on Feb. 15, creating a powerful shock wave and exploding more than 12 miles above the Earth's surface. This was the largest occurrence of its kind since 1908.
It burst into thousands of pebble-sized pieces over Chelyabinsk, Russia, where windows shattered and some walls collapsed, causing damage throughout the city and injuring 1,200 people (The Boston Globe, Feb. 15, 2013). Some people claimed to think that it was the end of the world. Who can blame them?
As it turns out, this spawned some entrepreneurial Russians to sell shattered pieces of space rock. Although the authenticity of the items was hard to establish, "The Internet filled quickly with advertisements from eager hunters hoping to sell what they said were meteorites -- some for as little as 1,000 rubles ($33.18)
"One seller of a large, silver-hued rock wrote in an advertisement on the portal Avito.ru: 'Selling an unusual rock. It may be a piece of meteorite, it may be a bit of a UFO, it may be a piece of a rocket!'" (New York News, Feb. 18, 2013)
Just to make this strange news even more bizarre, Russia's controversial Liberal leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has blamed Americans for the meteorite scare, according to a local media report.
"Those were not meteorites; it was Americans testing their new weapons," Mr. Zhirinovsky confessed to journalists.
Zhirinovsky further posted that new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had attempted to tell Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the "test" in advance. Lavrov has reportedly been dodging Kerry's phone calls for a few days now. (Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2013)
I love conspiracy theories. They are a great way to place blame and inspire terror.
Also in the theme of "Heaven and Earth," for some reason people were stunned when Pope Benedict XVI decided to give up his throne for an early retirement. After all, he is only 85 years old. Surely he has a few good years left in him.
I suppose this was news because he was the first pope to step down in almost 700 years.
Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, his name before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, was also the first German pope in about 1,000 years, and the first to be a member of Hitler Youth during World War II (Reuters, Feb. 11, 2013).
I am having trouble understanding why this is such a big deal. He is the pope, not the leader of an important country. Little will change for him. He will retire to cushy digs, still in The Vatican. The church will go on, as I am sure, will the world.
All this weirdness makes me excited about the upcoming election for Columbus City Council and mayor. Expect some fireworks. And look for me outside of your polling place selling bits of rock guaranteed to have tumbled out of some politicians' heads. If the outcome of this election does not please me, I will concoct a conspiracy theory to explain everything. Stay tuned.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
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