On December 2, Iceland’s President mandated that Pirate Party Member of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir form a government. In the October 2016 general election, the Pirate Party came in third, but the two top vote-getting parties, the Independence Party and the Left-Green Movement, failed to build a coalition large enough to run the country. It is now time for the Pirates!
The UK established a Pirate Party in 2009, again patterned after the Swedish party. Founded in Manchester, it espouses civil liberties, privacy, direct democracy, and other very sensible things, constrained only by the somewhat strange name. It has never managed to get anyone elected to the UK parliament, but a quick read of the pamphlet distributed in Manchester for the 2015 election demonstrates a very workable set of policies:
Given the state of recent political rhetoric in the UK and the US, consider the Pirate Codex. It lays out a simple set of principles that, despite being political, are remarkably non-partisan.
If you are really old, you may recall the song A Whiter Shade of Pale, by the English rock band Procol Harum. And if you aren’t that old, you can listen to the song on YouTube. At one point the song offers this:
p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale
If you’ve ever wondered what a “whiter shade of pale” might be, you can, again, thank the English for that, care of this on-line form from a British website:
Is it too much to hope that most people select “Not Known” or “Other White Background?”
Humans can not only put people on the moon, we can also send poems to space. On Thursday, September 20, 2012, a large helium-filled balloon was launched from Weston Park, west of the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England. Equipped with two cameras, a GPS transponder, a thermometer, a heating pad, and two poems, the vehicle cost £350 pounds, and aside from the cargo, consisted mostly of the balloon itself, string, duct tape, and a polystyrene box serving as the cargo compartment. Two hours and 40 minutes later the shattered balloon and its cargo parachuted back to earth, touching down 70 miles north of Sheffield in Linton-Upon-Ouse, after reaching a height of over 21 miles.
The launch took place before sunrise, but as the balloon rose it caught the early rays of dawn well before light touched the ground. Accelerating at almost five meters (16 feet) every second, the balloon expanded as the pressurized helium in the balloon met less and less resistance as the air thinned. In the very thin upper atmosphere, four times the altitude at which jetliners cruise, the balloon suddenly ruptured, and after falling into denser air, a parachute blossomed out, slowing the long fall to Earth.
Weston Park was not the most attractive venue for a launch in the wee hours of the morning.
One of the poems was written by Lykara Ryder. She composed it during a trans-polar flight from the UK to the US, looking down from her window seat as the snow and ice-covered fields of far northern Canada gradually gave way to signs of habitation.
Window seat on a night flight
By Lykara Ryder
Beneath the sight-stealing white
mist, the lines of light
that mark the land are burned, like sun
spots, into my eyes until the horizon
smudges out. So
this grid of humanity below
has me puff and sigh, full of wonder
as crystals of water
lives that span the globe
and days that cross continents.
I dream until descent
of posted parcels, Army
boys coming home, the debris
of broken homes being flung
across the sky, now strung —
just like these lights — crosswise
above the earth below my eyes.
Cameras mounted in the cargo compartment recorded the ascent. Note the increase in the size of the balloon as the balloon rises.