Mason County News
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A Fish(y)j Story
Outdoors Outpost
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 • Posted April 4, 2012

My friend, Tim Airheart, who I endured 13 years of school with in Mason, but now lives in Brownwood, posted on Facebook recently that there was a new, 3-D version of ‘Titanic’ coming out this summer. He said it’s been redone to appeal more to a younger audience, so the ship hits the iceberg because the captain was busy texting.Now, if I were to engage my full armament of sarcasm in a reply to Tim, I would probably berate him for insinuating that 3-D had been invented in 1912. It had not. But before I could make fun of Tim I received an email from an anonymous source who shall remain nameless because it was Tom Wyner, who evidently has nothing better to do than read my column and surf the internet for amusing news items.The email Tom sent me contained such a news item, from Reuters, written by Jim Forsyth, but the dateline said San Antonio. This is because the story is about something discovered by Donald Olson, a physicist at Texas State University, and his team of forensic astronomers. The Reuters story also contained an email button, and a window explaining that ‘the email button gives you a quick and easy way to start a conversation.’ In this case, I would say the email button gives me a quick and easy way to start an argument.The title of the story is ‘What sank the Titanic? Scientists point to the moon.’ Which immediately made me wonder if Donald hadn’t received an email from Tim, who might have gotten bored with making up ridiculous stuff on Facebook, and decided to make up some ridiculous stuff and send it to the science department at TSU. Or something.Now, as you know if you watched the 1997 movie, the Titanic was the unsinkable passenger ship that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912. As I recall, the moon had nothing to do with the movie ship sinking. I think it was more Kate Winslett prancing around, distracting the captain, or something.Of course, the real Titanic sank because it ran into an iceberg, and that happened because the captain failed to turn the wheel. So when I saw the headline of the story Tom sent me, it sounded like Donald was claiming the ship didn’t hit an iceberg so much as it maybe ran into the moon.But that wasn’t what Donald meant at all. The article says the TSU scientists figured out that the sun and moon had lined up just right in 1912, and both had come real close to earth, and that created mega-strong tides that caused a lot of icebergs to float down from Newfoundland, or some such, and get in the way of the ship. This was not normal, so Captain Smith didn’t expect a bunch of huge icebergs to be in his way, so he didn’t pay attention when he was told there were icebergs.In other words, the TSU scientists went to a great deal of trouble, calculating orbits and gravitational fields and tides and such, and came to the conclusion that the Titanic sank because the ship hit an iceberg. And you wonder why we still can’t cure the common cold.What this boils down to is that, in terms of purely scientific information, you’d do just about as well to follow Tim Airheart on Facebook as you would to read the ‘news’ and listen to scientists.But enough about Tim. That’s not the only news lately, and it’s certainly not the best news lately. I’m not really sure it’s even news. The best news lately is that, last week, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission unanimously voted to legalize the use of suppressed weapons for hunting native game animals in the Lone Star State.Before, it was legal to hunt hogs and varmints and such with suppressors, but not deer or turkeys. Which is kind of silly, but there you go. Now it’s legal, and I’m hoping the federal government will also wise up, and throw out their silly law requiring a federal permit to purchase a suppressor. But then, the feds wising up is probably too much to ask.The saddest news of late, however, comes from Arkansas, where Paul Crowder of Forrest City, fishing at Lake Dunn, caught the biggest black bass ever in the entire state. The previous state record belonged to Aaron Mardis of Memphis, who caught a 16 pound 4 ounce largemouth from Mallard Lake in 1972. Crowder’s fish beat that one by a whole ounce.But after certification by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, it was discovered that Crowder bought a fishing license three hours AFTER he caught the big one. So now he faces a $1,000 fine and up to a month in the Graybar B&BL&D.The worst part, of course, is that the fish doesn’t count, as a state record has to be caught legally, by a licensed angler. So instead of having his name in the record book for the next 30 years or so, Crowder’s name, besides being associated with the Bad Guys on ‘Justified,’ will only appear in the Cross County, Arkansas arrest records.Which should provide a lesson for us all. Just because your name is Airheart doesn’t mean you can come up with a sillier April Fool’s joke than a bunch of forensic astronomers . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who once caught a fish this big. Legally. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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