Pointless Questions With Aaron Mucciolo

It figures that the week after a reader complimented this column as “informative, written well and frankly, not pointless,” I find myself finishing said column at 2:30 in the morning. Ah well, that’s what editors are for…
Which countries have aircraft carriers? –Yoav Taal, college junior
As per usual, there’s no simple answer to this pointless question. There are three types of aircraft carriers defined by the types of aircraft they can carry. Some can only handle Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, namely helicopters. Others have a slightly slanted deck that allows them to launch Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft, like the Harrier jet (an explanation of how Short Take-Off aircraft become airborne using less runway space than normal airplanes will have to wait until next week). STOL ships can obviously also support VTOL units. The largest ships with the longest, broadest decks can handle the whole range of fighter planes, plus V/STOL units, and are referred to as ‘multi-role’ carriers. It is this type of ship that is normally associated with the term ‘aircraft carrier.’
The United States and France each have several multi-role carriers. Russia began construction on two multi-role ships in the mid-80s and finally completed one of its version in 1995 (Prior to that point, the Soviet navy had relied primarily on helicopters). The Ukraine came into possession of the second, partially built ship after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but scrapped it in 2000 when they were unable to pay for completion.
The United Kingdom scrapped or sold its multi-role carriers due to cost concerns and political considerations and now uses V/STOL carriers. Brazil, Italy, India, Spain and Thailand each have at least one V/STOL ship. As an interesting side note, Thailand’s carrier has quarters onboard for the entire royal family. Hmmm, and all we have is Air Force One. Someone should look into this apparent luxury-rooms-onboard-militray-equipment gap. I smell a good excuse to spend a few billion...
Japan, Chile and China all have VTOL carriers, and China is planning a V/STOL carrier or possibly a multi-role carrier. Peru decomissioned its only carrier, a VTOL unit, in March of 2000. Argentina finally scrapped a rusted ex-British multi-role ship in 1997. South Korea has plans to build a V/STOL carrier in the next fifteen years.
Yeah, I’m sick of acronymns too...

Why were participants at the D.C. protests advised not to carry, among other things, tampons? –Barb Distler, OC ’85
For the same reason you should wear clean underwear: If you’re arrested at a protest and jailed you may not have a chance to change it. The longer the tampon stays in, many people argue, the higher your risk of toxic shock syndrome.
I’ve also been hearing something about tampons reacting with tear gas, but I can’t back that one up. Any protestors out there care to weigh in?

Why are there so many ladybugs around? And what happened to all the normal ladybugs? –Robert Grim, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
This is going to be one of those questions — the kind with the phrase ‘first off’ at the start.
First off, ‘ladybugs’ is an inaccurate description — at least in the eyes of entymologists. “ ‘Bugs’ refers colloquially to insects. Beetles, on the other hand, are just one kind — a specific kind — of insect,” says Professor of Biology Yolanda Cruz. All ladybeetles belong to the family Coccinellidae and virtually all are colored yellow, orange, red, or some mix of these colors, Cruz added. ‘Normal’ ladybeetles (the red ones) are the seven spotted ladybeetle (Coccinella septempunctata). What were seeing around now are Asian ladybeetles (Harmonia axyridis).
The Asian species was released in the 80s, primarily in the southeast but here in Ohio as well, to control crop-destroying insects. The program was actually discontinued when it appeared the bugs weren’t surviving. Obviously they did survive and have been slowly making their way north. Their huge numbers this year are due in part to their continued migration, in part to the warmer weather (they dislike the cold, which is why they’ll sneak inside buildings if given the chance), and in part to the sudden increase in aphids on soybean plants in the area. The aphids, swarming in fields across the state, have become a favorite food source of the ladybeetles.
As for the ‘normal’ ladybugs, they, like their Asian cousins, have likely gone into hibernation for the winter. Yes, that’s right, ladybugs hibernate. How? Well, that would be another pointless question, wouldn’t it?

Questions? E-mail aaron.mucciolo@oberlin.edu or write to Mooch, c/o The Oberlin Review, Wilder Box 90.

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