Florida

My friend suggested I write a blog about Florida, a place where I’ve just spent the last 2 weeks.  It was the longest – and shortest – trip of my life.  Physically the longest, but now I’m home it feels like we were there 2 days or something.

I could write a mega post about the whole 2 weeks, but it’d be laced with injokes and “you had to be there” moments and would thus be a bit pointless for the average reader.  Instead, I will list my top 5 rides.  And for someone who used to be shit-scared of ‘big rides’, I am proud I can make this list and proclaim that I went on every rollercoaster I was faced with!

1. #1 has to go to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.  This rollercoaster will hold a special place in my heart for a long time because it was the first big rollercoaster we went on in Orlando (the Mummy doesn’t count, it’s too ‘small’).  Any rollercoaster that allows you to listen to your own choice of music is automatically a winner – I picked ‘Stronger’ by Kanye West for both my rides (boring but whatever, it sounded good).  Although I am still interested in retrieving stats on this ride to see just how many people pick songs from the country genre…. Nevertheless, it’s a great ride.  The vertical climb right at the start is fucking terrifying but I found keeping your eyes open worked better than closing them.  After that initial climb, the rest of the ride is a piece of piss.  A fun piece of piss.  Shame it breaks down so often (it broke down two times out of the three I attempted to get on).  My second and final ride was at the front, and it was awesome AND hilarious – mainly because my co-rider’s nipple came flying out to enjoy the ride.  We laughed. A LOT.

2. Rock & Rollercoaster with Aerosmith – it’s an indoor, Hollywood-themed rollercoaster that shoots you off at a billion miles an hour straight into a loop.  It also plays Dude Looks Like A Lady as you whizz round.  We rode it 3 times.  Need I say more?

3. Hulk – I love this ride for no other reason than it’s fast and it has a hilarious spoken introduction bit at the initial launch-climb.  This provided the catalyst for me to drunkenly recite the whole speech later that evening, complete with a live-action demonstration and a butchering of the dialogue.  WARNING! WARNING!.

4. Spider-Man – My favourite motion simulator, even outmanoeuvring The Simpsons Ride and Harry Potter.  It’s fun, it’s 4D, it has the Manhattan skyline.  And it has Spider-Man, who I later met at a merch store.  I’ll forever regret not riding it a 3rd time (until I go back…).

5. Last but not least, The Simpsons Ride.  First ride we went on in Orlando and the first of many motion simulators.  My experience up to this point had been in British-equivalent simulators where you’re meant to feel like you’re in a Red Arrow aeroplane.  US simulators take this concept so much further and shit on any simulator you’ll ever ride in a British theme park.  The effects blew my mind & this ride was only beaten by Spider-Man by virtue of SM being 4D.  But as our first proper ride in Florida, this too, like Rip Rockit, holds a special place in my heart.

It’s no coincidence that all my favourite rides are from Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure.  Our hotel was at Universal and it was the first park we visited during our holiday, and for those reasons alone it has much sentimental value.  I’ll love Disney forever, but it was simply too crowded, too overwhelming and too hot to truly appreciate.  I aim to stay at a Disney resort should I go back to Orlando so I can experience Disney as it should be experienced.

P.S. Special shout out to Ripsaw Falls for being fucking exhilarating and having a much scarier end drop that you would imagine!

Death penalty

It’s bizarre to me that in 2011 the death penalty still exists.  I am thankful we abolished it in the UK a long time ago.  For me, there have been too many mistakes – and when someone has to pay for that mistake with their life, well something isn’t right.

The oddest thing to me, as a Christian, is seeing so many of my fellow Christians be pro-death penalty.  But perhaps that is just another difference between ‘liberal’ protestants like me and the evangelical Christians so well-known in the States.  The Ten Commandments are sacred law for Christians and they’re very easy to follow.  Plain, simple instructions.  And one of them says “Thou shalt not kill”.  Pretty straightforward.  I shall not kill.  You shall not kill.  No one should be killing anyone.  I will never be pro-death penalty because my Father has told me that it is a terrible sin to do so and it is against the law and will of God.  We should never call the shots on who does and who doesn’t deserve to die.  God is the ultimate authority on this and His justice overrides all.

Controversial issues such as the death penalty tend to bring out the best and worst of social media outlets.  Twitter, as per usual, is being used to bring awareness to the specific case of Troy Davis, and to express the disdain and anger felt by many around the world who felt his execution should not have gone ahead.  Facebook, however, brings out both sides of the tale.  I saw on one of my friend’s profiles this morning that she too was disgusted by what was taking place in Georgia.  One of her friends then proceeded to ask, “So you wouldn’t want Osama Bin Laden dead then?”.  I find this line of thought infuriating and frustrating.  How can you even compare the two?  Bin Laden was a terrorist, a ‘man’ who took great pleasure in coordinating the murder of 3,000 innocent lives and confessing to this crime.  Davis has been executed for a crime that links no physical or DNA evidence to him as perpetrator.  7 out of 9 original witnesses have retracted their statements confirming he was the killer.  Since his conviction, jurors have claimed that if he was tried again, they would not have found him guilty.

No one is saying that Troy Davis is innocent.  Clearly this a complex case.  But there is serious doubt hanging over his guilt.  How can you execute a man when such doubts exist?  How can a man be executed when there is so little evidence to convict him?  How many more people will pay with their lives?

9/11

I am no Republican (I’m English for a start), neo-con or supporter of the policies of George Bush but I had a few thoughts whilst reading some articles and comments on various other blogs.

I think it’s very easy for critics and writers alike to decry George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.  But was there any other option?  Imagine your country is attacked in such a horrifying, destructive way – almost 3,000 people dead, 4 airliners destroyed in a kamikaze attack, 2 huge downed buildings, lives shattered and a country forever changed.  The USA prides itself on its unique place in our world.  Successive governments in the US have poured money into its military and defence budgets.  Was there any other option?

In retrospect, yes.  I for one do not believe the death of Osama Bin Laden marks the end of the West’s duel with Islamic extremism.  But that’s the thing about retrospect: it’s easy to sit here on September 13th 2011 and say war was not the solution.  On Wednesday September 12th 2001?  A very different story.  I believe any other American president would have done the same.