Monday, August 31, 2015

Tromelin Island

It seems to have been a while since I last wrote about a French territory in the Indian or Pacific ocean; on this occasion the former, about three miles east of Madagascar, the same area where they also hold Bassas da India and Europa Island and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and Juan de Nova Island and Mayotte and Reunion Island; I wonder if there isn’t actually more of France in the Indian Ocean than on the European continent; in which case, should the capital of France be in the Seychelles and not in Paris?

Tromelin is described by Wikipedia as "a nesting ground for boobies", and I think this is a wonderful piece of self-description for the site itself, though it turns out that boobies are not what the Americans think they are (slang for breasts), nor what the British think they are (slang for stupid – it comes from the Spanish slang expression "bobo", which has precisely that meaning); in fact they are a seabird of the genus Sula, similar to gannets, but with the most beautifully pale-blue webbed feet, and the Spanish explorers called them bobos because they were stupid enough to keep landing on the decks of their sailing vessels, even though this led to their being immediately caught and eaten. Captain Bligh, erstwhile Lord of the Bounty, claimed to have survived his forty-seven days between being set adrift and reaching Timor, by consuming boobies, or bobos, which settled on the poop of his lifeboat (and no, that is not why that part of the ship is called the poop-deck; it comes from the French poupe, which comes from the Latin puppis, which means the stern).

The attached image proves that boobies are not as stupid as is thought. The photo shows Rabbi Hillel Boobie, responding to the request by a younger booby to explain the entire moral and ethical code of Boobyism "be regel echad" – "in one rule" or "on one foot". Apparently his words, in the ancient Boobie language, can be translated as "Do not do unto others as you would find it objectionable for them to do unto you", a phrase that sadly is not manifested very often in these pages, but has its roots in Leviticus 19:18 (see also A Brief Essay Of Explanation By The Author).

Marks for: 1 for every boobie on the island

Marks against: 1 for every human on the island

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