My one birthday wish this year was for a giant iceberg to break off Antarctica on the day my age increased by one. So close. It was three days late, but I’m taking it.
Suddenly Delaware is in the news, because reporters all over the world say the iceberg is as big as “Delaware.” What is this Delaware?
I first consulted my old memories. Being old, I have old memories. One of them is a memory of meeting a young man back in the early ’70s who was quite proud of being from the state of Delaware. He often liked to say, as many as three times a day, “Do you know what’s special about Delaware?” And he liked to hurry up and answer before you could, “It’s because it has the least maximum elevation of all the 50 states in the Union.”
This same gentleman also liked to annoy people by being a one-man band, complete with kazoo, drums and synthesizer, without warning. Also, by challenging people to table tennis, beating their pants off, then offering to give them a handicap by playing with his left hand, so he could subsequently rub it in that he was in fact left-handed. In recent years he has taken up water-skiing without skis, substituting his bald head. He can now play two different melodies on two kazoos simultaneously, in entirely different keys, while practicing parkour. His watch tells time on eight planets.
But I digress. The question still remains, why are we comparing an iceberg to a state?
An entirely irrelevant object?
I do vaguely recall having been in, or more precisely on, Delaware once upon a time, but I don’t recall the size of it. If reporters are now going to tell me the iceberg is as big as Delaware, when are they going to tell me how big Delaware is? Is the size of Delaware a matter of common knowledge?
Is this one of those questions that a fifth-grader can answer but I can’t? “Teacher, teacher, I know! That’s 645,166 hectares!”
If fifth-graders are so smart why aren’t they all billionaires and driving Lamborghinis?
It’s a rather jarring comparison. It’s like saying a baby is as big as a watermelon. Well, they might be, but please let’s remain among mammals at least and not stray into the vegetable kingdom for our comparisons.
They say that the moon has the same area as Texas. I’ve just taken people’s word at that, as working it out and confirming whether it’s true or not strikes me as one of the most useless exercises I could possibly engage in, right up there with the time I calculated how many elephants it would take to fill up the King Street sinkhole in January 2016 (two dozen bull elephants). Why do I care how big Texas is? Knowing that Texas is the same area as the moon helps me do what with Texas?
Delaware, I believe, is mostly dirt and rock, sprinkled with greens, houses, national corporations, some railroads and a living ex-vice president.
An iceberg is ice.
An iceberg has depth.
Delaware, as my annoying friend 45 years ago pointed out, is the depthless-est.
You wouldn’t change a watermelon’s diaper, would you? You wouldn’t put a piece of Delaware in your martini, would you?
Comparisons are odious. Lately, as it becomes obvious that the Trump campaign at least tried as hard as it could to collude with the Russians, I am seeing more and more the comparison to Hillary. “Hillary Clinton was/is just as bad.”
Well, be that as it may, Trump is the president. Hillary is not the president. When Hillary is the president we can impeach her. We can only impeach the one we have.
Try turning all comparisons around. “This watermelon is as big as a baby.” What are you going to call it? “This state is as big as an iceberg.” Yes, but can it float? Does it have what it takes to sink a large passenger liner? Would a band play “Nearer, my God, to Thee” while drowning, as the state of Delaware loomed over them?
“Trump is as bad as Clinton.” Yikes, time to do something about that.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time a math professor and three times homeless. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. This is his regular humor column, Adventures in Irony.
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