"BALLOON SHOOT DOWN HAS US ON ALERT"
Yes, that was the recent headline on NPR's website. While the country may be on high alert, I myself am not overly concerned. After all, I grew up during the height of the Cold War, where the elementary school teachers had air raid drills where we hid under our desks. Because you know, in case of thermonuclear attack, the safest place to be is under a pile of dry kindling. Compared to nuclear annihilation, I'm not feeling too threatened by the balloons. Though it does seem like there've been a lot of them getting shot down recently. Sounds like someone at the Pentagon has spent too much time playing those carnival balloon games. Admittedly, those are kind of addictive.
In any event, history tells us: No worries! The first major aerial balloon attack I'm aware of was in 1849, during the Italian War for Independence. Austria launched a fleet of bomb carrying balloons against their adversary Venice. In summer, the canals do get a bit dank, but call me silly, that's hardly a reason to launch a bombing attack. Great idea; poor execution. After the unmanned balloons were launched, the winds shifted, sending them back to the Austrian fleet. Yikes! At least I think that may have been the Austrian commanding officer's last words.
All of this begs the question: what are these balloons? Several theories have been proposed:
Chinese spy balloons--Because why trust spy satellites or high altitude jet aircraft when a pile of helium filled nylon is readily available? Fun fact: there is a global helium shortage--ask Party City, now in bankruptcy.
Party balloons--Assuredly not from Party City, but a threat to serious, non fun loving people everywhere. The Puritans and my third grade teacher would be proud to have shot these down.
Industrial balloons--Who better to put out of business than the bourgeoisie fat cats? Karl Marx (and perhaps Groucho) would enjoy this.
Aliens--Great! The Klingons will be after us shortly, the most disturbing problem of all since Captain Kirk is well into his nineties now.
Whatever these the balloons are, there are a few people I'd hate to be, and they fall into three categories:
National Weather Service has about 184 balloons in the sky. Jim Cantore, watch out!
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta--This was the world's premier private hot air ballooning festival, emphasis on the "was."
Those bouncy guys outside auto dealerships everywhere. World's newest most endangered species.
I'll close here, as I prepare for the next likely military threat--I've heard there've been massive developments in spitball technology.