Mason County News
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Outdoors Outpost
Man Overboard
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 • Posted March 28, 2013

Before we get to today’s topic (pirates) there are a couple of news items we need to mention, since this is, in fact, a ‘news’paper, and should contain news. That doesn’t necessarily mean news you need to know, but then, you can’t have everything. Where would you put it?

Our first news item is the new Gun Free Zone app available for iPhones, Androids, and some other cellular telephones. App is short for ‘Apple,’ which is the icon for Macintosh computers, the company invented by Steve Jobs. I used to wonder why Steve used an apple as his symbol, until I found out that Macintosh is a type of peach.

Anyway, the new app is called Gun Free Zone, and it tells the user which stores and areas are gun friendly, and which are posted as ‘gun free zones.’ John Penden, who created the app, said it was designed to let people ‘vote with their wallets,’ and shop in stores where they felt most comfortable. Unfortunately it only works in Utah, so far, but I think John plans to make it available all over the United States. Eventually he may include other countries, such as California and Illinois.

Detractors claim the app will let criminals know which stores they can safely and conveniently rob, and which ones to avoid. Maybe that’s true, but just because a store owner doesn’t want YOU to bring a gun into his place of business doesn’t mean HE doesn’t have one, or five, under his counter to deal with robbers. It seems a lot of gun control proponents don’t think it necessarily applies to them.

Our second news item comes from Predator Xtreme online magazine, where E’s are voluntary. The title of this story, as it appeared in my email In box, is ‘Man who threatened squirrel back in jail.’

When I saw that title I was pumped. Sounded like it was going to be a great story, especially since I was unaware of anyplace where squirrels were allowed to file complaints against citizens for harassment and such. Besides, who would threaten a squirrel? And what would you threaten a squirrel with? Cutting down his tree?

Turns out a fellow in Billings, Montana named Lance Joseph Topel is just nuts (rim shot), and was chasing a squirrel around with a knife, which is really no threat to the squirrel. If a guy with a knife is able to catch a squirrel, the rodent didn’t have much of a future anyway.

But the title was less than accurate. Lance actually threatened a man who asked him to quit chasing the squirrel with the knife. Granted, that was probably not a smart thing to do. If I see a guy chasing a squirrel with a knife, I’m not going to ask him to do anything. I’m just going to get my phone out and see if I can get it on video. But that’s me.

Our real story this week, however, is about pirates. Specifically, one pirate, a fellow named Paul J. Watson, who pretty much started the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society about 35 years ago. He has a fleet of ships he uses to go around the world and harass people doing stuff he doesn’t like. It’s a lifestyle choice, I guess. The problem is that it’s irritating to the people who are doing the stuff he doesn’t like.

For example, on 26 February Watson ran one of his huge ships between a Japanese research ship and a tender that was trying to refuel it in the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica. This was, according to people who know more about boats than I do, a very dangerous thing to do. All three of the ships were in danger, and it’s pretty cold down there in the Southern Ocean. If you fall in, you’re liable to be frozen even before a whale has a chance to eat you.

But that’s nothing new for Watson. He’s been doing stuff like that for decades, and he’s managed to anger just about every country in the world. The Sea Shepherd fleet was headed for Australia recently, evidently to refit before they went back out to badger more scientists, and Watson learned the authorities were going to arrest him, so he jumped ship before they got there. Now he’s on the lam. Or lamb. I can never remember which.

Watson is wanted in Japan for the ship stunt and he is afraid to come back to the U.S. because he would probably be turned over to the Japanese. He is wanted by the folks in Costa Rica for endangering the crew of a fishing vessel there, and he barely escaped the authorities in Germany in July.

The Ninth U.S. District Court of Appeals declared the entire Sea Shepherd organization to be pirates in February. So I guess the only thing left for Watson to do is head for Madagascar, the final pirate refuge of the early 19th century.

About the only good thing that can be said for Watson is that he’s never threatened a squirrel with a knife. Yet . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who leases an eye patch, with an option to buy. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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