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Long IslandColumnists

Popes, meteors and what we thought we knew

The trail of a falling object is seen

The trail of a falling object is seen above a residential apartment block in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk. A heavy meteor shower rained down on central Russia, and the hurtling space debris smashed windows and injured hundreds of people, officials said. (Feb. 15, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

I knew nothing, and so did you.

I knew popes don't quit. I knew meteors stay in the sky. I knew cruise ships are so gargantuan and stable, nothing can possibly go wrong.

There was evidence, solid evidence, for all of this. No pope had said "I'm outta here" since the 1400s. Meteors fly around the heavens all the time and hardly ever crash to Earth. As for the cruise ships -- well, we hear from time to time about the occasional unpleasantness. But all you had to do was take a ride on one of those floating metroplexes. You could barely even tell you were out at sea.

So what is going on now? Don't we know anything at all?

Out of the blue, Pope Benedict decided he'd had enough poping. A meteorite slammed into central Russia, injuring 1,100 very surprised central Russians. And the Carnival Triumph turned out to be neither of those. The ship was more like a floating Port-O-Let.

It doesn't stop there, of course. It never does. Expectations and assumptions mean nothing anymore. Who knows? The weathercaster might turn out to be right.

At least we know that Marco Rubio is the future of the Republican Party. We can drink to that. Or he can. We know that Oscar Pistorius, South African "Blade Runner" para-athlete and now accused girlfriend-killer, was a true inspiration at the 2012 Olympics -- was. And just as I was contemplating that -- whoosh! -- a 150-foot asteroid brushed by Earth.

That doesn't happen, right? Never that I recall. Just like hurricanes don't hit Long Island and last week the winter was pretty much done.



1. Cameras need film.

2. First-class costs just a little more.

3. The polls are wrong.

4. Beyonce sang the National Anthem.

5. The Senate is the greatest deliberative body on earth.

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Before Brookhaven Town officials stop congratulating themselves for evicting nine college students from an "illegal multifamily house" on Krispin Lane in Setauket, has anyone thought to ask: "How can LI ever become a college destination if there's nowhere for college kids to live?" . . . $7,500 to remove a finback carcass last month from Napeague Beach? East Hampton trustees are looking extra close at that whale of a bill from Bistrian Gravel Corp. . . . Should Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine ever begin a sentence with the phrase "I could resign tomorrow"? This time, he was downplaying complaints he was out of town when the big snowstorm hit . . . Whaddaya mean "schlumpy lawyers"? The Nassau County Bar Association's "Dressed to a Tea" charity fashion show is set for March 14 . . . We have the traffic to practice in. Is anyone surprised to see LIers Justin Bonsignore and Donny Lia leading such a strong local contingent of Whelen Modified drivers at NASCAR's inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach Monday-Tuesday in Daytona? . . . Is the question of legalized casino gambling becoming an early flashpoint in a Suozzi-Mangano Nassau rematch? Did you notice that Tom Suozzi pal Dave Mejias is chairing the anti-casino group N-RAGED, Nassau Residents Against Gambling Enterprise Development? . . . You mind some gratuitous book hype? My latest, "Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior" (with SEAL Cmdr. Rorke Denver) hits stores Tuesday, the inside story of America's next generation of heroes.

THE NEWS IN SONG: Oh, we heard the church people say: Tom Jones and Jools Holland, "Strange Things Happening Every Day."

How better for a church to spend a Saturday than buying guns off the street? That's what Bishop R. W. Harris and his wife, Pastor Novella Harris, ask. So that how they and their volunteer member spent their Saturday. The money came from Nassau County criminal forfeitures. The love came from Grace Cathedral Church in Uniondale.

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