Oh, the humanity.
Looks like the city of Ogden may be getting its very own blimp.
Apparently, city officials have been in talks with the Utah Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Design at Weber State University. The subject? Designing and building a blimp for the Ogden Police Department.
The unmanned, cigar-shaped dirigible -- 52 feet long and four feet in diameter --would be piloted from the ground via remote control. Equipped with a night-vision camera, it would allow police to patrol the city from above.
A police blimp would certainly provide law enforcement with a relatively inexpensive eye-in-the-sky for things like surveillance, stakeouts and even vehicle chases -- provided, I suppose, that the getaway vehicle doesn't exceed the blimp's top speed of 40 mph.
When news of the blimp broke, Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner said it was just "one of many options" the department was considering. Indeed, among the other cutting-edge law-enforcement technology being considered is:
* A police steamboat -- if, that is, Robert Fulton can get all the bugs worked out.
* Equipping all police officers with makeshift stun guns, consisting of a hair dryer in a bucket of water to throw on suspects.
* Replacing the expensive two-way radios in patrol cars with tin cans. And string. Lots and lots of string.
Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that I'm pooh-poohing the blimp idea, because it sounds kinda, well, silly.
Au contraire, mi amigo.
Personally, I think the idea of a cop blimp is a great idea. Why, I'm even thinking that the Standard-Examiner should commission its own blimp. Hey, other news organizations have helicopters, why can't we have a blimp for our aerial shots? Or at the very least a cherry picker with a video camera duct-taped to the basket?
Despite the fact that many are insisting that a blimp is the craziest idea law enforcement has ever come up with, I beg to differ. Listen, it's not even the worst idea they've had this month.
That honor, of course, goes to our very own Weber County sheriff, who recently sent a letter to his staff members -- and then posted it on Facebook -- telling them that they are doing God's work, and that (and this is my favorite part) God approves of capital punishment.
In the letter, the newly elected sheriff told of wanting to join one of Utah's death penalty firing squads, because he believes that as far as killing in war, self-defense and criminal sentencing goes, "it is okay because God is okay with it!"
Now, some folks are squawking about that separation of church and state business, saying the sheriff had no right to invoke God in his capacity as a government employee. Maybe so, but I'll leave all that Constitutional mumbo-jumbo to groups like the American Civil Liberals Union.
No, what I'm most heartened by is the good news that God is "okay" with much of the killing that's been going on in this ol' world.
Take war, for example. See, I had always just assumed The Big Guy was more the pacifist type, what with that whole Prince of Peace thing and all the talk of beating swords into plowshares and such.
It's just good to know that the Almighty "gets it" when it comes to the necessary evil of things like collateral damage and friendly fire. I mean, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right?
It's also nice to know that God is such a big fan of the death penalty. Again, all this time I'd just assumed He was sorta "soft on crime."
I got that impression from the New Testament story of the adulterous woman. You remember the tale from Sunday School, right?
A woman is caught committing adultery, and the people are getting ready to stone her, but Jesus is like, "Hey, let he who is without sin casteth the first stone," and so Chris Buttars steps up and clunks her in the side of the head with a rock, and she's like, "Ow, that hurt," but then everybody else's consciences start to get the better of them and they all slink away and Jesus asks her, "Wherefore art thine accusers," and she says, "There aren't any," and he tells her "Neither do I condemn thee. Goeth forth, and sinneth no more."
Of course, what the scriptures don't tell you is how, the very next day, the people catch that same woman commiting adultery, and Jesus is like, "Thee again? Methought I told thine own bad self to goeth and sinneth no more?" and she just smiles and shrugs her shoulders, and he turns to the angry mob and says, "Putteth down thy stones. Because now I shalt teacheth ye all how to executeth this woman proper-like."
At which point Jesus performs the miracle of turning water into potassium chloride, and instructs the people in the art of administering lethal injections.
So, like I say, it's good to know God is down with stuff like capital punishment and war.
I'd be willing to bet he doesn't hate the blimp idea, either.
Contact Mark Saal, who just happens to have a blimp pilot's license, at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com.