Just A Bit Of News …

Here’s just a bit of news from around the planet.

Just when you thought this year couldn’t get any worse – Snow White died!  Not the real one, obviously, but the one that Disney turned into a feature length anim … “Oh, for Godsake!  It was a cartoon!”  Anyway, Marge Champion has passed away.  She was 101.  Back in the 1930s, she was the teenage dancer Disney hired as a live model for his megahit Snow White.  She worked on and off for two years and was paid $10.00 a day (Actually decent money, back then.)  But Ms. Champion was only the body.  Adriana Caselotti was the voice, and she passed away in 1997.  Thus, Disney’s Snow White is no more.  But that’s okay: we all know that — like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and all the rest — Snow White is actually immortal.

In other news, the town of Asbestos, Canada (Pop. 7,096) has decided to change its name.  From now on, it wants to be known as Val-des-Sources.  Kinda cool, given that asbestos is one of the bogeymen these days.  However, there are a significant number of townspeople who aren’t happy about it.  They speak French, and they see this as another example of the Anglo-Canadian majority pushing them around.  You see, the French word for “asbestos” is amiante, so strictly speaking, to most of the people who live there “asbestos” is just a made-up English word, and changing the name is bowing to Anglo pressure.  Perhaps!  Personally, however, I think calling your town Asbestos is not the best way to attract tourists.  “Tired of the Covid Lockdown?  Why not spend two weeks in the breathtaking town of Asbestos?”

Meanwhile, NASA has taken the gloves off.  They’re going back to the Moon, and they’re taking one of the toughest companies on this planet with them — Nokia.  NASA has selected this bad boy to build the first cellular telephone network on the Moon as a prequel to a long-term human presence on our nearest celestial neighbour.  Kickass choice!  Nokia means NASA is serious.  Any network they build will be heavy-duty and probably permanent.  Remember, it was the good folks at Nokia who made the Nokia 3310, back in the 2000s.  That baby was the Chuck Norris of cellphones, and the stories about it are legendary.  People bounced the Nokia 3310 off concrete sidewalks, dropped it out of apartment buildings, threw it at speeding cars, ran over it, set fire to it, tried to drown it and there’s even a documented case where it stopped a bullet!  In your face, Huawei!

And finally:

Another Prime Minister (Katrin Jakobsdottir of Iceland) laughs off yet another earthquake!

The World Keeps Turning – II

hold my beer

Here in isolation, we’re all finding creative ways to cope with social distancing.  I’ve started talking to the telemarketers.  Charlie from One World TechCom is nice; he just had a baby.  So, the world keeps turning.  Here are just a few things that happened this week.

A couple of days ago, supply outstripped demand and the price of crude oil fell below zero.  Let me give that to you again – BELOW ZERO.  In other words, oil companies were paying people to cart the stuff away.  One wonders how the international markets handled this.  After all, oil has been the price of doing business on this planet since the Saudis first held us hostage back in 1973.  (Shoe’s on the other foot now, huh, Salman?)  I can’t wait until Samsung starts giving away a free barrel of oil with every purchase of a big screen TV.

Travellers in Canada are now required to wear masks in airports and on all flights – foreign and domestic.  Hold it!  I can’t go across the street to get my hair cut because it’s a non-essential journey, and somebody is jetting off to somewhere because … Why?  Where could they possibly be going?  For God sake, the entire planet’s closed — except the factories in Wuhan, China.  And, trust me, you can get any of the junk they’re manufacturing delivered from Amazon.

And speaking of China, Missouri is suing China because they allege the Chinese government willfully “lied to the world and silenced whistleblowers” about Covid-19.  Good luck with that!  Folks!  You’re suing a country that has a couple of million Muslims in re-education camps, has armed troops all over Tibet, kicks the crap out of Hong Kong protesters every weekend, threw a Nobel Prize winner in jail and regularly conducts organ transplants where the Falun Gong donors are not notified.  I doubt very much if a subpoena from the Show Me state is going to carry any weight.

And finally:

Chutzpah has a new World Champion.  Apparently, Sir Richard Branson, the Grand Poobah of Virgin Everything, is in financial difficulties.  His various airlines are going broke.  In fact, it’s gotten so bad that Branson has offered his private Caribbean island, Necker, as collateral for a $500 million UK government loan.  This is a dire situation.  However, let’s review the facts.  Forbes estimates Sir Richard’s net worth is somewhere north of 5 billion dollars.  He doesn’t pay any tax on it cuz he lives in the Virgin Islands where he moved a couple of years after he was convicted of tax evasion.  He owns everything with a Virgin label on it and has enough money to build a spaceship (LauncherOne.)  That’s right!  A spaceship!  However, he figures that to keep all this going, he needs UK taxpayers to pony up some big bucks.  Hey, Dick!  Here’s an idea: use some of your own money and bail yourself out — that’s what the rest of us are doing.

Fake News … Not New!

fake news1

These days, everybody and his friend is yipping about fake news as if millennials invented it last Tuesday, and … OMG! Ain’t it awful?  Well, here’s a real news flash!  There’s always been fake news, and this current crop of journalists and their Internet Overlords (If it isn’t trending on Twitter, it didn’t happen.) are just the latest incarnation.  I’m pretty certain some of the hieroglyphic accomplishments of the Pharaohs are embellishments, and we know for a fact that more than a few of the stories Herodotus (the Father of History) told were not necessarily factual.  The thing is Herodotus knew what every journalist since, discovers: the truth is a moveable feast.   Let me demonstrate.  Here are two sentences that say the same thing – except they don’t.

After extensive public dialogue, Mayor Quimby and his supporters have stepped up to tackle the homeless crisis in our city.

Bowing to extensive public pressure, Mayor Quimby and his cronies have finally stepped up to do something about the homeless problem that plagues our city.

See what I mean?

Two of the greatest purveyors of less-than-the-truth journalism were the 19th century dynamic duo of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.  They fought it out in 1890s New York to see who could grab the most readers (read “followers”) with clickbait headlines and salacious stories that would make BuzzFeed blush.  These two crazy kids were so good at manipulating public perception that Joe is now considered the Father of Modern Journalism (Yeah, he’s the guy the award is named after.) and Willie started a war.

But the Big Kahuna of fake news is Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches.)  This little ditty was published in 1487, just about the time Gutenberg’s printing press was radically changing European society (think: early Renaissance Internet.)  It was written to raise public awareness about the presence of witches in the world and offered some proactive advice on how to deal with them – notably, burning them alive.  However, it was just one clergyman’s (read: “influencer’s”) personal opinion, and it had no basis in fact or even the religious doctrines of the time.  It was disavowed by every authority on the planet from Martin Luther to the Pope (Even the Inquisition said it was hogwash!) but, unfortunately, the public fell in love with it.  Then, as the Reformation gathered steam and European society broke into two conflicting camps, Malleus Maleficarum became the go-to text to beat the other side with.  In those days, labelling someone a witch immediately discredited them and anything they had to say.  (Ring any contemporary bells?)  It was a bestseller for over 200 years, second only to the Bible, and was considered unassailable truth until the Enlightenment came along and said, “WTF were we thinking?”  Even today, many people believe in demonic possession and tons more believe that witchcraft is some ancient pagan religion.  (BTW, Wicca is no more an ancient religion than I am.  It was made up by a retired British civil servant, Gerald Gardner, in the 1950s.)

Yes, in the 21st century, fake news is serious, not because it’s there (It’s always been there) but because gullible people have immediate Internet access to other gullible people all over the world.  The problem is, back in the time of Herodotus, or even Joe Pulitzer, stupidity was a retail commodity, confined by geography.  These days, geography doesn’t matter, and stupidity is being traded wholesale in every corner of this big, round world.

The only solution is don’t believe everything you think.