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September 5, 2006 > Editorial: September, month of our equinox

Editorial: September, month of our equinox

This is the month when our planet wobbles and tilts so that on the 23rd (this year) it faces equally (equatorially speaking) toward the sun. We call it the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere and it signals the beginning, astronomically speaking, of our fall and winter months when the hours we spend looking away from our local star outnumber those spent peering at it. Earth inhabitants who reside in the southern hemisphere, Australians for instance, call this same moment the "vernal" equinox as they head for their summer months. Those guys always seem to always have their own slant on things anyhow, but what can you expect from people who carry on their lives sticking to our motherball called Earth upside down? (They probably have the same view of us "northerners.")

September holidays and celebrations range from Patriot Day, a solemn remembrance of a shocking international atrocity to celebratory occasions including our local Celebrate Fremont and Newark Days, international Oktoberfest and the Chinese August Moon Festival to zany stuff such as September 19th "Talk Like a Pirate Day" in which we all should address each other with "Ahoy, me hearty" rather than a simple "hello." This is a month of possibilities. Four months left on the calendar, the last third of the year, allows enough time to think and act on significant issues while reminding us that the clock is running quickly toward a new year.

This same month of September marks the revival of many political happenings including elections looming only two months away. With most vacations a memory and city councils back in full swing, the focus for many citizens move with the seasonal change toward school, workplace and home-related issues. We have plenty to consider in the greater Tri-City area to keep us busy trying to resolve problems of schools, housing, transportation, government funding, etc. etc. etc.

September will host opening salvos of many political campaigns coupled with rising awareness of the public that we are closing in on the next general election. TCV plans to focus on local candidates and issues in an October edition approximately two weeks prior to Election Day. Our tradition is to provide information to our readers so they can easily understand and evaluate their voting choices in an informed manner and make up their own minds about whom and what best represents their interests. Although some issues may cause editorial comment, most are left for our readers' critical review, not for a veiled and secretive editorial board to decide and advocate.

As obscure and murky as some issues become with political spin and "no spin," we can always look at some phrases used by sailors in the 17th century to feel better about the nonsensical jargon that sometimes fills newsprint, internet and airwaves. For instance:

Lift the skin up, and put into the bunt the slack of the clews (not too taut), the leech and foot-rope, and body of the sail; being careful not to let it get forward under or hang down abaft. Then haul your bunt well up on the yard, smoothing the skin and bringing it down well abaft, and make fast the bunt gasket round the mast, and the jigger, if there be one, to the tie.

--The Seaman's Manual (1844), by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.

Or how about Sir Henry Mainwaring's (a former pirate) instructions:

If the ship go before the wind, or as they term it, betwixt two sheets, then he who conds uses these terms to him at the helm: Starboard, larboard, the helm amidships... If the ship go by a wind, or a quarter winds, they say aloof, or keep your loof, or fall not off, wear no more, keep her to, touch the wind, have a care of the lee-latch. all these do imply the same in a manner, are to bid him at the helm to keep her near the wind.

 Harland, John, Seamanship in the Age of Sail

Well, shiver me timbers!
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