Don’t worry – a ghost ship crewed by cannibal rats probably isn’t about to hit the British Isles


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A ghost ship, crewed by cannibal rats, is reported to be heading towards the British Isles. Really?

Well, the mystery of the Lyubov Orlova cruise liner has become a news story that has been circulating online and splashed in newspapers. Just imagine it: a shadowy vessel silently docking in the dark of night, while cat-sized killer pirate rodents descend and scurry around our cities, brandishing their fangs ready to gnaw at your bones – yes it’s the stuff of nightmares. And with each new headline the rats have become bigger and bigger, so to speak. We relish the opportunity to tell a good ghost story, don’t we? But is it true?

Chris Reynolds, director of the Irish coast guard, chuckles and says, “The problem you have now is that you can’t prove something you don’t know.” It all began when the Yugoslavian-built ship – named in 1976 after a Russian actress – was abandoned for two years in a Newfoundland port after its owners were embroiled in a debt dispute. It was meant to be sold for scrap, at a value of around £600,000, to the Dominican Republic. But its tow-line broke loose on what was to be its final journey and it has been drifting in the Atlantic ever since. The reason why there’s such a fuss is that an abandoned 4,000 tonne ship can be hazardous for other cruise liners and tankers in the sea, especially when it’s dark, and it could also get tangled in oil rigs.

Reynolds explains that the Irish coast guards were alerted about the possibility of an abandoned ship heading their way and that in March 2013 the emergency beacons were alerted, which sent a signal to the coast guards. To repeat: that was early last year>..

“…We couldn’t find it and there was no value to keep on searching. But we have to keep vigilant.” So, this seems to be the only bit of evidence that the ship is on its way? Right…Reynolds now explains that he expects and hopes that the ship has sunk or has been pushed back onto rocks…”We have received no reported sightings of the vessel since April last year, but we will respond accordingly.” Ok, so that’s sorted…

So where did this whole story come from anyway? Well, it is first mentioned last year in the Irish Independent, when Reynolds is quoted to have said: “The ship was alongside the harbour in Newfoundland so we assume there are rats on board, and that’s a biohazard,” adding: “we don’t want rats from foreign ships coming onto Irish soil. If it came and broke up on shore, I’m sure local people wouldn’t be very happy about it.”

If you really need to, I’m certain you can follow the adventures of people – talking about looking for the ghost ship – on Facebook or Twitter.

40 percent of parents learn how to use technology from their children

Teresa Correa, University Diego Portales (in Santiago, Chile), conducted in-depth interviews with 14 parent/child sets and surveyed 242 parent/child sets. She found that youth influence their parents in all technologies studied – computer, mobile Internet, social networking – up to 40% of the time. The children’s scores were higher compared to parents, showing that parents don’t necessarily recognize the influence. Parent’s also learned how to use technologies by self-experimentation.

This bottom-up influence process was more likely to occur with mothers and lower socioeconomic families. Similar to what happens among low-income immigrant families, where the children act as language and culture links between the family and the new environment. Digital media represents a new environment for lower socioeconomic families, and the children from poorer families were more likely to receive input about technology from school and friends. This spills over and, in turn, the children teach their parents…

“The fact that this bottom-up technology transmission occurs more frequently among women and lower-SES families has important implications,” said Correa. “Women and poor people usually lag behind in the adoption and usage of technology. Many times, they do not have the means to acquire new technologies but, most importantly, they are less likely to have the knowledge, skills, perceived competence, and positive attitudes toward digital media. These results suggest that schools in lower-income areas should be especially considered in government or foundation-led intervention programs that promote usage of digital media.”

All of which prompts parallel commitments for the same reasons. Teaching children about healthy eating, exercise, even broadening cultural horizons to seed knowledge in parents who may not have had adequate learning opportunities in their own childhood.

“The wife is to voluntarily submit” – Republican Congressman

It’s not exactly a secret that the Republican Party has struggled with women voters in recent election cycles. Party officials are well aware of the gender gap; they’re eager to reverse the trend; and they’ve even coached Republican lawmakers – more than once – about how not to say offensive things that push women towards Democrats.

And yet, some GOP officials might need some additional tutoring. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reports that Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) has a new book in which the congressman argues a wife is to “voluntarily submit.”

“The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice,” he writes, citing the Bible. “The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.”

It’s worth emphasizing that from Pearce’s perspective, the notion that wives should be submissive doesn’t necessarily mean wives are subordinate. “The wife’s submission is not a matter of superior versus inferior; rather, it is self-imposed as a matter of obedience to the Lord and of love for her husband,” he writes.

So, according to the Republican congressman, married women should be obedient and submissive, but not necessarily unequal. How does that make sense? I haven’t the foggiest idea.

Self imposed-submission makes as much sense as self-deportation.

It is, of course, true that Pearce’s religious beliefs are his own and he’s free to interpret his holy text however he pleases. It’s also true that there will be plenty of Americans who share his views about gender roles and traditional family structure.

But in a political context, Republicans are eager to tell women voters that the GOP is a modern party capable of appealing to a broad and diverse electorate. Republicans, who’ve lost countless races because of the gender gap, desperately wants to present the party as one that respects women and believes in equality.

Pearce’s book helps do the exact opposite.

We’re stuck with the English language, folks. Pearce can blather around the topic saying we don’t understand what his religion really means. Folks responsibile for communicating those beliefs to us ordinary American mortals better come up with a new translation into English.

Whatever flavor of rationale chosen, the idea, the practice of choosing to run the politics of a nation by the rules of 14th Century religious ideology is both absurd and unconstitutional.