Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Chinese Party Balloon
The humor category of Chronicles of a Footloose Forester is pretty skimpy, not that there is no humor in the world. Lest the world forgets, however; more than a few comedians have enough gravitas to make us laugh at ourselves even when there is some pretty serious sub-rosa business afoot. Take, for example, the latest revelation about long-distance spying on the part of the Chinese…using a giant party balloon and a clever red herring to extract military secrets from the Americans. Clever these Orientals. Nobody shot down the Chinese balloons over Hawaii, Texas and Florida during the tRump administration, so why not launch another one during the Biden administration and embarrass him in front of the GOP patriots who think that he is weak on defense?
Many a Conservative, with a capital C, was ready and willing to take matters into their own gunsights with their symbolic AR-15s and shoot that sucker down, at no cost to the taxpayer. Of course, there were a few 2nd Amendment stalwarts who cautioned that the range of a 5.56mm round from most AR-15s would be insufficient to reach an altitude of 60,000 feet or approximately 11 miles, unless of course, it was a magnum load. Thank the Lord that self-sufficient conservatives load their own shells and would be able to overcome that minor technical difficulty. Don’t knock it unless you have tried it. Still, other skeptics insisted that even magnum loads would not have a sufficient range so it might be necessary to pilot a Cessna within range and fire from an open window. Cutting down the range would surely improve the chances of success. Failing that, a few well-heeled conservatives who own private jets capable of flying into the ionosphere have volunteered to approach the Chinese balloon from above and just drop a couple of grenades and let gravity take its course.
Our national security is at stake, so nobody should dismiss the ever-present threat of disguised espionage in the form of a gayly festooned party balloon. Clever, those Chinese.
Sorry, if I burst your balloon
In all seriousness, some events in world affairs beg us to chuckle. The Balloon Gate Episode in early February 2023 will go down in history books as a distraction. A pragmatic Footloose Forester rates the affair, on a scale of 1-10, as a 2 in intelligence value, a 4 in newsworthiness, and as a 6 in comic value.
There is often a truly serious side to comedy that is generated from current news events. The Chinese spy balloon story is a real-life event that unfolded in real time. We now know that the large surveillance balloon was indeed an intelligence-gathering vehicle in the inventory of similar balloons of the Chinese armed forces. But what about the other, subsequently destroyed balloons in the following days? Not much information, to date, and no sources of origin, manufacture, or purposes. Not even speculation has been offered. So, in the spirit of a personal opinion by a citizen blogger, the following presumption is posed: conspiracy theory enthusiasts with access to the materials and lighter-than-air gasses that could be injected into homemade balloons are eager to enliven the current new cycle by conducting copycat ventures. The general public already knows about launching private drones, thus launching private balloons would not constitute rocket science. And copycats sometimes make the evening news.
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