The easy rationale for a couple of bad decisions is to blame them on a full moon.
Unfortunately, the lunar calendar is not to blame for the removal of the fire rings at the beach in Corona del Mar. After 60 years of providing wonderful memories, they are now history.
It's as though all of a sudden, residents near the rings discovered that fire creates smoke and that the rings themselves attract people who want to use them.
How interesting it was to hear residents near the rings complain of the pollution and nuisances, when the bet is that all of them moved into the affected homes after the rings were established, not before. Does that excuse the consequences of the rings? No, but it should have provided cause to test options before throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
My first choice would have been to restrict use to certain days or require permits, or both.
In the end, though I freely admit I have no evidence to support this, I believe the residents didn't like out-of-towners coming into their neighborhood to use the rings. Unfortunately, no one will ever admit that, so we are left with the sudden revelations of smoke and nuisances.
Perhaps the three people who are still fighting for an airport at El Toro can learn something from the fire ring folks.
Astronomy was also not the cause of the awful decision to eliminate the elephant rides at the Orange County Fair after 25 years. In a 6-1 vote by the Fair Board, with member Dave Ellis dissenting, elephants were given the boot, leaving me to wonder why the elephants were singled out.
After all, the fair has pony rides, in which the animals spend all day walking in circles looking at the rump of the animal in front of them. If that isn't mistreatment, I don't know what is.
Or, how about the All Alaskan Pig Races? In this attraction, pigs are given names — such as Soapy Smith, Sourdough Jack and Al Pigone — and placed in tight cages before being forced to run around a track and jump hurdles while humans laugh at them. The laughter may be affecting the pigs' self-esteem, and if that isn't cruel, nothing is.
And what of the pig that loses the race? Shouldn't we be concerned that this pig will live the rest of its life so deeply scarred that it may never recover?
Perhaps the solution here is to take a cue from Little League and youth soccer: Give all the pigs medals or certificates after each race. This way, we make it clear that no pig "loses" a race — they just come in sixth or seventh, or however many pigs are running that particular race.
The crowd who fought for the end of the elephant rides seems to me like a bunch of folks who like animals more than people. That has to be their motivation, because I haven't seen or heard of any organized effort to get rid of the deep-fried food we humans eat at the fair, some of which is chocolate-covered bacon — one ingredient of which is, yes, pigs.
Seems to me that pigs are getting far worse treatment than the elephants ever have.
And why isn't anyone fighting to ban the giant horse or the giant steer, both of which appear at the fair each year. For a small fee, fairgoers can enter a room so small that the animals can barely turn around and they must spend their days as entertainment for the gawkers who file by. Outrageous.
I asked Ellis for the reason behind his vote to keep the elephant rides.
"The item was framed as a safety and liability issue, although the animal rights advocates spent their time talking about mistreatment — a case they failed to make in my view," he said.
The moon may be to blame for the tides and the occasional odd behavior, but when it came down to fire rings and elephant rides, it was just two cases of perfect world people trying to create the perfect world.
STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times